Email Marketing, Marketing

Email Marketing Basics for Creative Business Owners

So you keep hearing the following statement, “As a business you should probably get around to sending out some ‘professional’ email.” And you may be wondering where the heck you should start or if it is even worth your time.

Email Marketing has some powerful benefits, but to be successful it has to be well thought out and carefully managed. Today, we will cover some of the benefits, how and where to get started and then the ideal anatomy for your newsletter.

Email Marketing has some powerful benefits, but to be successful it has to be well thought out and carefully managed.  |  Think Creative Collective

The Benefits are Hard to Deny


Build Know, Like & Trust

By sending branded, beautiful emails your potential client or customer continues to get to know you better. They generally like you more. And they definitely are more likely to trust your business. Find out how to turn that trust into a sale here.

Boost Your Sales

Nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads (source).  Hello, why wouldn’t you nurture them then? That’s like throwing away free money.

Stay Top of Mind

How many times have you stumbled upon a gold mind only to forget the name, lose the address or fail to save it for later? Trust me, people who come across you will accidentally close a tab, won’t bookmark the page or restart their computer in the middle of reading no matter how awesome they think you are. If you can manage to capture people’s information then they are way more likely to remember just how amazing you are. Email marketing is one of the only ways to guarantee your entire audience will be exposed to you. Social media is not guaranteed and posting a blog post all by itself is like a shot in the dark. Email marketing forces your name to show up in their inbox again and again!


How to Get Started


Increase Traffic

As much as we would like to assume people magically show up on our email lists the first step to any marketing tactic is to grow your exposure. You can organically increase traffic by creating killer content on a blog (you stopped to read this didn’t you).

Here are some surefire ways to increase traffic on your website. And this includes some super simple SEO tactics to help push your company to the top of search engine results.

Setting Up the Forms

Before you begin collecting email addresses, you need a way to capture this information. Here is a basic step-by-step tutorial to set up your forms in Mailchimp.

Enticing Someone To Sign-Up

Do you willy nilly give out your personal information? Absolutely not! You have to trust someone, and they have to give you a pretty legit reason for you to hand over that coveted email address. The secret sauce to having someone sign-up is using a super valuable opt-in. You can learn all about what goes into one here.

Or if you just need a gold mine of ideas. I have 101 irresistible headline ideas waiting for you in my FREE e-book. Snag your copy back stage.


Anatomy of the Ideal Newsletter


So you finally have a list of people dying to hear more from you because you already gave them some of your juiciest knowledge. But what do you send them? What goes in your “newsletter” of sorts?

Personalize & Customize

Personalized emails improve click-through rates by 14%, and conversion rates by 10% (source). Consider adding someone’s name to your subject line and addressing them in your email. In Mailchimp you simply do this by adding the tag *|FNAME|* which refers to that field on your list based on the email address.

Tell a Story

People want to connect with other people. They get plenty of “ads” in their inbox from big box brands. Don’t spam them. Act like they are a part of your life, you have them over for a cup of coffee and you want to tell them a story. Connect it back to something going on in your life or business.

Call to Action

Give your readers something to do. Perhaps you challenge them. Maybe you ask them to read something. Go and sign up. You can even ask them to buy (don’t do this every time or you will wear out your welcome). Always end your emails with a call to action.

Extras

It is completely appropriate to throw in some extras at the bottom of your email. Consider adding some of the follow items.

  • Blog Posts – What is your newest content you don’t want them to miss?
  • Social Media – Where do you like to hang out online?
  • Promoting Products or Services – What is available to them right now?

COME HANG OUT WITH US ON INSTAGRAM


Tutorial, Social Media

How to Schedule Social Media Content using Post Planner

When it comes to social media schedulers it seems that it’s usually a bit of a piecemeal to get all the functionality you need for your business. The terms of service for each platform varies so much that it’s hard for one scheduler to be an “all-in-one”. So, while we still use and love Later for our Instagram scheduling, we haven’t really been in love with our options for posting to Twitter and our Facebook group.

postplanner-postgraphic.jpg

When we were voicing our frustrations with our options someone in a Facebook group suggested we check out Post Planner. Holy Moly, were we impressed! First off, it’s $2.00 a month cheaper than what we were using (#DollaBills y’all) and it had some unique features that we didn’t even realize we were missing. If you’ve been considering Post Planner or if you already have it, but not quite sure how to use it, then read below for a full tour of our favorite features.

WHAT THE HECK IS POST PLANNER?

And more importantly, why do you need it? Social media can be tricky, and it’s hard to be active on all the platforms during the day without it sucking up your entire calendar. So it’s nice to have your posts scheduled out in advance so you stay on top of your social media game. Heck, anytime we can get a robot to do our work for us we’re going to do so.

Basically, Post Planner allows you to plan and schedule content to your Facebook Page, Facebook Group, and Twitter. Starting at just $7 a month for up to 10 profiles, 100 posts per day and 1000 planned posts it’s a clear winner over other apps like Buffer that cost $10.00 a month and only allow 100 planned posts a month.

We’ve been able to link our Twitter and Facebook Group so we can plan out content to our hearts’ desire, which frees up a ton of time on our part.

LET’S WALK THROUGH THE APP

First, you’re going to want to create your account. We chose to sign in with our Facebook information to make life easier, but you can create an account with your email (you’ll need to sign in to Facebook to connect your Facebook page or group though).

The first tab you’ll land on is the “Find” section. This one is both cool and lame at the same time. It’s cool because it lets you browse various categories such as “marketing”, “business” or “quotes” and related articles or statuses will pop up. We use this feature solely to get ideas on what to share, write ourselves, or just for inspiration. We don’t share these actual articles because we don’t know who they’re coming from. We like to support people we know in real life (even if just virtually) so we hope that they work on this section a bit. It would be nice to be able to load up accounts you actually follow to see what they’ve been sharing with the ability to re-post it within the app.

So you can skim over this section if you want to. We will point out though that the reason why this is neat and we hope they integrate it differently is that it’s super beneficial to share others’ content. It helps provide a smorgasbord of related and valuable content to your audience without it just coming from you. Sharing Karma is a real thing, y’all.

If you did feel inclined to share from this “Find” section, you would simply click on the article and up would pop your share box. We’ll go over more features of this share box below.

The next tab you’ll see is the “plan” section. You can set your default posting times in here if necessary. Say for instance you never want things to post on a Tuesday (weirdo) you would simply click on Tuesday to gray it out (similar to how Saturday and Sunday look). We chose not to set default posting time because we knew we were going to override them elsewhere. More on that below.

Okay, this is where it gets fun. Here is what our “Post” tab for our Facebook Group looks like. One of the features they have here, called the “Recycle”, is hands down the reason why we love this app. What it allows you to do is set a specific post to “Recycle” at a time you designate. We’ll show you how in just a bit. Here’s how that’s different than what Buffer can offer you. Say you want the same Facebook Group prompt to go out every Tuesday at 9 a.m. Well, in Buffer you could schedule in to do that once and save it to your library, but every week or so you’d have to drag it from your library to your Tuesday spot. If you placed too many of the same post (if you wanted to pre-scheduled out Tuesdays for the rest of the year for instance) Buffer would stop you. No bueno.

Another cool thing we want to point out is that if you click on the “Posted” tab you’re going to see all the things that have already gone out. From there you can click on previously posted items, edit (if needed), and repost. This is similar to Buffer’s library, but way more simple.

Here’s how our Twitter feed looks. You’ll notice that we have “Recycle” on every single post here too. What we were finding with Buffer is that since you could only pre-load 100 posts at any given time then we could only schedule so far in advance. That only lets you schedule 3 posts a day on Twitter per month (not counting if you have anything set to your Facebook Page or Group). Three posts a day on Twitter is not enough, folks, so we need more.

With Post Planner’s intro package you can have 33 posts a day on Twitter (whoa) or roughly 10 to 15 like we have because we also account for the posts we have planned in our Facebook Group (to reach their 1000 limit per month).  

Here’s scheduling a tweet in action. We only plan for blog posts to be shared inside Post Planner. We have a IFTTT set up to post our Instagram posts to our Twitter as native posts (i.e. not an Instagram push, but a true Twitter post with an image). So we’re either sharing and repeating our own blog posts or the posts of people we love.

So here we’ve simply copy and pasted the direct URL to a blog posts of ours. Don’t worry about how long the link is, Post Planner automatically turns it to a bit.ly for you. The image that we have on our post automatically loads as the image to share (tweets with images perform better than tweets with just words). If we wanted to add more words we could, but we like to keep it simple (also, #Lazy).

You’ll see that we check “show Sharebar when link is opened” - we’ll go over that in a bit. Now, let’s plan this sucker.

If you click the “Add to Plan” it will pop this tweet up in the next open spot in your queue. If you click the drop-down arrow you’re going to get some more options.

From here you can decide to share as your next tweet no matter what is scheduled, share right now, or to schedule. When you open the “Schedule Post”, this is where the magic happens. You can set the exact time you want to schedule the tweet and select it to repeat if you wish. We select all of the blog posts we share to repeat, because we are very picky about what we share, so since we know it’s valuable we know you’re going to want to see it again.

Once you decide to repeat a post you can change it to repeat every # of weeks, days or months until a certain end date or for forever. WHOA. Think of all the possibilities! Once you pick your repeat plan just hit “Schedule”.

Now, your tweet will show up in your queue with the bit.ly that Post Planner gave it (feel free to make your own custom bit.ly in your bit.ly account, but this is just an extra step). You’ll also know that the “Recycle” is on because you’ll see the grey recycle icon on the left.

If you hover over the tweet, this purple bar will come up. This is your chance to edit, delete or re-schedule. You’ll only need to re-schedule if you didn’t select it to repeat forever.

Oh, one other cool feature is that you can open up Canva directly inside the app if you don’t have a cute graphic to share. In-app friendliness is kind of our jam.

Okay, now let’s talk about what the heck the Sharebar was all about. It’s pretty much our favorite feature ever. So you know how when you share other people’s content you’d kinda sorta like to get them back over to your site too? Well, this is where Sharebar comes in. When you share a blog you can enable the Sharebar to show and this is what it’ll look like.

Here we are on Megan Minns’ website and our information is showing at the top of her webpage. It doesn’t block anything she already has going on it just simply reminds people who sent them there and enables them to head back to our website, Facebook, and Twitter account. If we wanted to show an email opt-in we would need to upgrade to the Guru plan at $15 a month (not bad at all).

In order to enable your Sharebar you have to create it first. You can find the information on how to do so in your Post Planner settings.

Whew! That was a lot of information. Your takeaways are this:

  • Post Planner is awesome

  • Sharing other people’s content is nice

  • Sharebar is totes cool

  • Scheduling this much content saves a buttload of time

We hope this walkthrough gave you some insight into how powerful this app can be for your business. Now get to scheduling, babe! Create your account with Post Planner now.


Instagram is Our Main Jam!


Blog, Infographic

Super Saucy Blog Post Anatomy (BONUS: Blog Planning & Analysis Printable)

We know that you're probably hearing every single day how important it is to have a blog. The numbers don't lie, the interaction with you audience is incredible and the value of what you can give can be a game changer. We also know that sometimes you put off something simply because you don't know the best way to go about getting it done. We want to make sure that you're using each and every post to its full advantage - it takes way to much time to prep those posts for them to not be working for you!

Today we're breaking down a blog post piece by piece. We'll tell you exactly what how your post should be laid out, what to include in it and how to wrap it all up. 


Your Free Blog Boost Weekly Worksheet

At Think Creative Collective we want to continue to help you grow and reach your potential. We want to see you succeed and be proud of how far you have come. We want you to go after a life and a business that you love.

And because we just love our readers and want to encourage them (that's you) we have created a printable perfect for keeping your blog on track. You can use it as your planning tool to title new content. Keep it around to check off your engagement across social media platforms. And assess the results every week - "hearting" your favorites and seeing the real traffic numbers. We would suggest printing one a week and using it to track for the next month. See if it helps you stay on task. See if there is new growth. Use it to see what is and isn’t working. Keep it in a binder so you can come back and look at it later. 

Get instant access to your free printable worksheet and many more in our all free backstage resource library for bloggers and creative entrepreneurs!


Keep Up to Date on Our Recent Blog Posts & Ways to see Your Blog Explode


Business, Entrepreneur

5 Ways You Should Legally Protect Your Business

You pour hours and hours of hard work into your latest content, course, product or service only to wonder, “what if someone steals this and sells it as their own? Can you contact them and ask them to remove it? What if they don’t take it down? Or what if they’ve been selling it as their own and making money off it?”

You pour hours and hours of hard work into your latest content, course, product or service only to wonder, “what if someone steals this and sells it as their own? Can you contact them and ask them to remove it? What if they don’t take it down? Or what if they’ve been selling it as their own and making money off it?”  Or you’re 3 months into a 6-month service contract with a client when they suddenly change their credit card number and bails. Now what?  |  Think Creative Collective

Or you’re 3 months into a 6-month service contract with a client when they suddenly change their credit card number and bails. Now what? You were relying on that money coming in and can’t afford to just let it go. But you didn’t have them sign anything, so how can you hold them accountable?

What’s a girl to do?!

No worries, I got you. First, let me introduce myself: I’m Sam, a corporate-attorney-turned entrepreneur who empowers women with the legal info and education they need to confidently run their own businesses and create content they really love. I don’t want you to hold back anymore. Create that course, write that post or offer that new product.

My goal is to make legal easy, accessible and yes - even fun! Or at least more fun than it normally is.

So today we’ll take a look at the most important ways you can legally protect your business online. There’s no “right” time for you to get #LegallyLegit (as I call it!). If you’re in business, then legal is one piece of the puzzle you have to take care of.

And it’s not just about being worried about getting sued either. I’m all for empowering you to be proactive, not just reactive. You also need to protect your content, get paid and establish boundaries with your clients.

Here are 5 ways you should legally protect your business:

Start With Your Website

Start by protecting yourself, your business and its content through your website. Each website should ideally have a privacy policy, terms and conditions and website disclaimer.

A privacy policy is more than likely legally required if you collect email addresses or have a “contact me” form on your site. In a nutshell, a privacy policy tells people when you collect information, why and what you do with it. A website disclaimer is a very clear statement to your readers about who you are, what you do and how you’re qualified. Finally, your terms and conditions page/contract is the place to set the rules and regulations of using your site.

On the one hand, it’s amazing we can reach people all around the world through our websites. But on the flip side, we really have no idea who’s reading our content or what they’re doing with it.

In the health/wellness/fitness/business world, this can seriously be a problem and the best way to address it is by having our website covered with these essential legal documents.

Client Contracts

As tempting as it is to text, email or Facebook message prospective clients, this is one area where old school pen and paper (or digital paper) still rules. Any agreement to enter into working together for services or products should be done in writing and via a client agreement (contract).

The contract should be clear about what is/isn’t included, payment terms, your disclaimer and what your company’s policies are. That way, if any issues pop up, you can always point back to your contract. Your clients will also pay on time, abide by your policies and be clearer on what’s included if you have them sign an “official” contract.

Stay Within the Scope

One of the best ways to protect yourself and your business is to always operate within the scope of your practice. This is different for everyone depending on who are you, what you do and what your qualifications are.

If you’re in the health and wellness space, it makes a big difference if you’re a nurse, registered dietitian or health coach. If you’re giving out business advice, it’s important someone knows you’re not a lawyer, accountant or financial advisor.

It’s not just enough to cover this in your website disclaimer or a disclaimer included in your 1-on-1 contracts. You actually need to operate your business in accordance with your scope of practice too. If you’re a business coach but not a lawyer, don’t give out legal advice. If you’re a health coach but not a doctor, don’t give out medical advice. You get the idea! Create a reliable network of other professionals you can refer to or reference and you’re all set.

Set a Sharing Policy (and abide by others’ policies)

One of the easiest ways to ensure you get credit where credit’s due is to have a clear “sharing” policy on your site, preferably in your terms and conditions. This is where you should outline what steps someone has to take if they want to share your post, recipe, photos etc. Do they need to email someone at your company? Who? Can they just go ahead and share, as long as they link back and give credit? Can they use your photos? These are all questions that your sharing policy should address.

Have it clearly available and set out on your site so no one visits your site, sees a post they want to use on their site and just copies and takes it because they don’t see a sharing policy on your site. You can also use the fact that you have a sharing policy set out in your terms and conditions for when you need to contact someone who did use your content in a way that contradicts your sharing policy.

Protect Your Online Course

As your business grows, you might create an online course or group program to try to maximize your reach. We want to make sure your business is ready and protected for that kind of growth first.

Online courses and programs bring up a host of new legal issues. What is your policy about sharing login information with people who didn’t pay for the course? What if someone downloads your content and shares it online? And what about installation (monthly) payments? These are all issues you want to address with clients before they sign-up and purchase your course or program. You can do this through a terms of use document that people have to review before they can purchase. Even better, have them check off a box to confirm they’ve reviewed and agreed to your terms of use before they purchase.

There are so many ways we need to protect our businesses and ourselves in business. You might think these things would never happen to you or that you can’t really get “in trouble” for something you’re doing.

Unfortunately, I’ve spent the last 5 years finding out how wrong that is. These things can happen to any of us in business at any time. And I don’t say that to scare you. I say it because we have the option and the opportunity to be proactive and protect ourselves the best we can. I believe that makes us more professional, confident and empower entrepreneurs. And I hope you do too.


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Systems, Entrepreneur

How to Figure Out What You Really Want to Do: 7 Steps to Build Your Dream Business

Hey, you. Yeah, you over there who has this passion that fuels your soul. This passion that you think deep down inside might just be able to turn into a business, but you’re maybe more than a little bit nervous about even thinking that. I mean, who makes money from doing something they actually love? We do. And so can you. We believe in treating your business (what you might be calling a hobby) like a business from day zero. Before we had clients or raving customers. Before it helped pay the bills and allowed us to work from home and make our own schedule. Before we had to pay quarterly taxes and consider an LLC. Before any of that, we decided that this little ole passion was going to be a full blown, soul fulfilling, freaking profitable business.

Hey, you. Yeah, you over there who has this passion that fuels your soul. This passion that you think deep down inside might just be able to turn into a business, but you’re maybe more than a little bit nervous about even thinking that. I mean, who makes money from doing something they actually love? We do. And so can you. We believe in treating your business (what you might be calling a hobby) like a business from day zero. Before we had clients or raving customers. Before it helped pay the bills and allowed us to work from home and make our own schedule. Before we had to pay quarterly taxes and consider an LLC. Before any of that, we decided that this little ole passion was going to be a full blown, soul fulfilling, freaking profitable business.  |  Think Creative Collective

Once you establish that this passion of yours can be a profitable business it’s a lot easier to make crystal clear decisions regarding your business. Should you invest in that program? What about blogging? What social media channel should you be on? Should you focus on list building and email marketing? When you’re clearly able to see where you want your business to take you, you’ll know within seconds how much time you should be spending and in what areas you should be focusing. Until you get to that point mentally, you’re just “trying things”. We know it’s easier to tell people “I’m trying it out and seeing where it’ll lead me.” It’s harder to own what you’re doing and what you want it to become.

So the first step is done. You’re ready and willing to go head on into this whole creative small business owner thing and totally rock it. What comes next?

You’re armed with passion, now let’s get you the tools to make it all happen. While there are loads of tools (softwares, apps, products, and systems) that we use every day to make our jobs easier, there are a select few that we absolutely couldn’t live without. Swipe them, use them, love them and watch them help you save time and knock some major things off the ole to-do list. We’re all about working smarter, not harder.

  • ConvertKit: Our favorite and handiest email service provider. We’re all about investing in things that make the most sense for your business. Email marketing makes sense and shows about a $44 return for every $1 spent, so it’s clearly worth your time and money.

  • Pic-Tap-Go: The easiest, fastest and most powerful iPhone editor available. For just $1.99 you’ll be able to edit your smartphone pics in a way that mimics the quality of DSLR images. This is the only editing app we use to edit on the go. It’s the key factor in how we’ve been able to create a consistent and professional looking Instagram feed across the board.

  • WebinarJam: This is how we run our webinars and it’s been one of the biggest game changers in our business. When we were running webinars every month the first 5 months of our business, we doubled our list every single time. This has been a huge factor in the growth and engagement of “our people” on our list.

  • Teachable: The simplest and quickest way to get your course online. We host all of our programs over on Teachable and love the ease in which we can go from idea to money making course super fast. Their drag and drop functionality mean you don’t need to learn code before you can sell online. Teachable has been a huge factor in our growth here at TCC.

Want to know what else we use to make our business run smoothly? We’ve got a bag of virtual goodies ready and waiting for you right over here.

Now that you know you’re gonna make this happen and you know the tools that are gonna help get you there, when does it all happen? Well, now we have to take a long hard look at our day and week. We know you’re probably still at that full time job (outside the home), or chasing the kids and the laundry, which is a (sometimes additional) full time job in and of itself. You’ve got to make concise decisions in a timely manner in order for you to see the most movement. Well, before we can actually start penciling stuff in, you first need to plan out and write down how you want your week to look different. What would it look like if you actually gave your business your all? What would happen if you took a Tuesday off?

Are you going to be building a business that’s going to need your attention 24/7/365, or will you set up systems that can work behind the scenes when you aren’t there?

This is where it’s going to be super easy to look at what everyone else is able to do in their business. You’ll look at their Instagram feeds or read their newsletter thinking that they have bigger budgets, more time, better results and richer clients. This comparison corner is not a fun place to be, and you’ll start to feel bad if it doesn’t seem like you’re catching up. This is when we urge you to think about what’s going to work for you and your family or situation, not what works for others.

If you can only give 30 minutes a day, make it a damn good 30 minutes.

In order to make it a damn good 30 minutes, you need to be eliminating as many steps as possible for each and every task. It may not make sense for you to outsource someone else to do certain tasks, but you could automate it. We’ve been able to find so many steps in our everyday (some big, some tiny) to automate, and that has in turn found us so much time in our day.

If you’re interested in automating #AllTheThings then let’s get your biz on autopilot with our free course.

Now, you’ve got things automated and running in the background. You’ve gotten some things off your plate so you can focus on moving your business forward. But there are still everyday tasks that need your attention. You still need a place for brainstorming, big dreaming, planning and doing. Where to do all that?

We personally use (and recommend) Trello. This is our go-to powerhouse that enables us to not only dream big, but get our everyday to-do’s done. It’s how we function as a two CEO business, communicate with our team, plan our launches, blog posts and podcasts episodes and check in our growth as things progress.

Ready for your final step? This one is pivotal. It’s dramatic. It’s huge. It’s the hardest.

You just need to do the damn thing. And then do it again.

Make a plan then follow through. Dream the dreams then turn them into action steps. Don’t just say you want to have a dream business, build it. Establish your hobby like a business from day one and reap the benefits.

Will they come overnight? Absolutely not. But will they come at all if you don’t treat every single day as if they will? Absolutely not.

If following through isn’t your forte (hey, we see you creative) then let us help you. We know that sometimes our right brained friends can stay in the clouds and convince themselves that their big scary dreams can’t happen. But we know that they can.

Here’s the bottom line: we believe in you, your passion and your success. We want to be your biggest (and loudest) cheerleaders in everything you do. We want this world to be filled to the brim with people loving their jobs instead of hating them. We want to help form new generations of people working creatively and with so freaking much passion that it runs out their eyeballs. We think you’re ready to be a part of that.

If you’re ready to see some movement in your business and be proud of what you get to do every single day we want you inside our brand new (FREE) course Spark Your Creativity: 7 Steps to Ignite Your Business. Here’s what we’re breaking down:

  • Why your passion needs a purpose
  • More tools to be more productive and badass apps to help you cut the crap
  • The mistakes we’ve made and the things that can totally kill your vibe
  • How to plan your dream week and how it can totally shift how your business runs
  • The secret sauce behind our success (and how you can totally copy it)
  • The best way to make goals that get done

Hundreds of creatives have already chosen to take these steps and are ready to see big changes in their creative business. Will you be the next one?


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