Let’s discuss time. You probably don’t feel like you have enough of it, what with running an online business and all. Specifically, let’s talk about ways to invest your time that will have epic effects on your online events, your brand as a whole and the way you do business.
Over the years, we’ve invested in seven areas that have paid off big time. We hope you’ll stick with us as we explain the multiple benefits and applications of each area.
Making these time investments can help any online coach or trainer, freelancer, infopreneur, blogger, or solopreneur . . .
1. Making videos. Even though we all hated being in front of the camera when we first started.
As an introvert with unruly hair, I (Regina) thought it wise to stay off-screen for most of my life. But, with the way the Internet evolves and explodes every single day, I thought it unwise to not try multiple forms of media. Periscope is the video of the day! No wait, it’s now Snapchat. Um…it’s Instagram Stories! Whoa…now it’s Instagram TV!
Whatever the platform du jour is, if you learn to create video, you’ll be able to pivot with the platform. If you run Internet businesses like we do, then the #1 rule for us is:
Once you arrive, don’t stay at your destination too long; you have to set a new course.
In other words, get ready to pivot.
Whatever goal you’re setting right now, once you hit it, celebrate, have a Martin Scorsese marathon, play some Scrabble and drop Z’s and X’s and J’s on your opponent, then set a new course. Even if your new course is taking your current project to the next level. Trying to apply IRL (in real life) speed to an online business is like trying to apply tortoise speed to the hare. Wait. Bad example. The tortoise beat the hare . . . but you get what I mean.
Area #1: Make some videos, yo. All the videos.
- Videos increase the chances of people on the Internet finding you.
- They take your brand to the next level of helpfulness.
- They attract people who are prone to get a little lost in too much text.
- They allow you to communicate certain things (tutorials, deep thoughts, etc.) more effectively than screenshots or words that don’t come with tones or facial expressions.
- You can get out your thoughts faster when you speak (on video) than you can in text.
- Videos allow you to express your personality (and personality quirks…) that help create authentic connections between you and your audience. That’s important in an impersonal world, yo.
Try: Facebook Live, Instagram Stories/Instagram Live/Instagram TV, Zoom recordings, G+ Hangouts On Air, YouTube tutorials, screencasts of your computer screen, recorded presentations, or any other type of video that helps you communicate with your ideal audience.
P.S. >> Tools: I use Camtasia or QuickTime for screen recordings, a DSLR and a lavalier mic for recording myself, and I upload most of my content to YouTube + Vimeo. Don’t underestimate the power of inexpensive (and free!) tools available to you. With just a $25 mobile phone tripod and your camera, you can build your audience and provide epic video content for them.
2. Writing a book.
Wait, writing a book is a time investment? Now you’re just talkin’ crazy…Let me tell you about the hardest thing I’ve ever done professionally. And the second hardest thing I’ve ever done professionally. It’s the same darn thing. Writing a book.
One was a physical 200-page manual and the next one was a 200+ page digital book. I just want to be honest with you here. THEY WERE NOT EASY TO CREATE. At all. But, I don’t want that to scare you off from it. Writing that first book is probably the best thing I’ve ever done for my business.
Do tell us why, Regina.
I will, my friend. I will.
Even though I feel my writing has changed + grown so much since my first book (so yeah, it’s a little painful when I read it), I’ve been able to use that book for IRL classes and its organization and information truly make a difference for people who are just getting started in business. I’ve been able to take some of the book’s content and make long format blog posts out of it; I’ve been able to modify some of the book’s sections and make them more specific for certain industries . . . then include them as content in my online classes and products.
Oh, and it’s made a little money over the last year or so.
Area #2: Invest some (serious) time in writing a book.
- Writing a book will force you to create lots of content. Whether you give it away for free or charge for it, the amount of content you have to work with and form into different things will be worth it. You feel me? I know you feel me.
- Your book makes you look legit. Straight up. It just looks sooooo legit that you have a book in your niche/genre/area.
- Your book can help you make income. You can sell it solo, or bundled with other materials, or as a part of your workshop, or packaged with a baby sloth that you ship to my house. Seriously. I want a baby sloth even more than Kristen Bell. Please say I’m not the only one. And yes, I realize it’s probably not 100% legal or whatever. (note: the lawyer on our team just told me to stop suggesting that anyone ships baby sloths as a book bonus.)
- Writing a book is just such a milestone that I truly believe you will experience a mindset shift after you’ve completed it. You’ll see your business and yourself differently. You’ll be someone who is a Published Author.
3. Learning doc layout + design.
If information is your game (I’m looking right at you coaches, infopreneurs, bloggers, authors, and online bootcamp instructors) or if you’ll be sending your clients documents (freelancers), then learning how to lay out and design attractive documents is vital. I invested time into learning Adobe InDesign at first. I could tell that it was going to take a bit more time to master than I had to spare in the moment, so I instead invested time in learning Apple Pages. Best decision ever.
Now I’m able to create workbooks, slides, and downloadable PDFs that don’t take forever to prepare and publish or require me to hire a contractor to do for me.
Area #3: Learn how to lay out documents in the program of your choice.
- You’ll be able to quickly create documents to add value to your content (checklists, media kits, guides, etc.).
- You’ll be able to dream up digital products you can create and then actually execute them.
Try: Checklists, individual worksheets, adult homework, workbooks, products, eBooks, media kits, and other guides with your word processing or layout software.
4. Learning graphic design software.
I have invested many hours into learning Photoshop (as well as Pixlr and Canva), and it is so useful. Even if you just edit templates or designs you have made for you, knowing a bit about graphic design software will help you create the promotional materials you need much sooner than hiring someone every single time.
I honestly believe that graphics are what will initially help you stand out. Whether it be your Facebook cover photo (that you update with each event launch), your blog post images, or flyers + business cards to promote your brand, knowing how to “whip something up” can be crucial in this fast-paced business world.
Area #4: Find graphic design software that has the functions you need and doesn’t seem to have the largest learning curve ever (unless the software is going to be a key part of your day-to-day operations).
- You won’t have to constantly wait for your designer to complete things if you’re able to do them yourself.
- You’ll be able to quickly take advantage of any opportunities you see to promote your brand or products with graphics.
- You’ll be able to add more to your emails, blog posts, social media accounts, and website when you know how to create or modify graphics.
5. Learning to take + edit photos.
Photography makes a huge difference on social media channels (like the vegan chef’s Instagram feed @fitmencook), your blog, in products, and anywhere else you need on-brand images.
Area #5: Put an emphasis on learning the basics of photography and lighting, whether you use a mobile phone, or a point-and-shoot camera, or a DSLR.
- You won’t have to always use stock photography to get your point across in your posts and products.
- You’ll be able to catch more moments as they happen instead of needing to hire a pro just to get great images.
- Custom photos will help you stand out, especially if you develop a style of your own.
Try: Learning the settings of your device and taking multiple pictures to get the hang of what makes something awesome vs. ordinary vs. poor quality.
P.S. >> Tools: Most of the photos on my Instagram feed are taken with a Canon T5i and a 50mm lens. But, some are taken with my phone. Almost all of them are edited with VSCO Cam or Snapseed.
6. Creating templates for blog posts, visual collateral, and resources.
This has straight saved me from going insane. All the content you create and clients you serve can be a lot to manage, there’s no need to add blog post graphics to your list for every single post.
Now that I’ve created templates (but you can always purchase one created for you if you don’t like design or purchase a pre-made set on Creative Market), I literally have a 3-step process to get a new image going for my newest post: (1) I open up my template, and (2) bring in the new photo I want to use, then (3) change the text.
Area #6: Develop templates (or hire someone to develop them for you) for any items you’ll be repeating somewhat frequently–blog posts, Pinterest, resources, etc.
- All your images on the various social media channels will have the same feel to them and help your brand become more recognizable.
- You will save a lot of time by using templates as opposed to creating something from scratch each time you want to publish a new resource/article.
Try: Multiple software platforms that are affordable and have support videos or free tutorials for you to refer to.
7. Creating a challenge (or even an email course).
We love challenges!
I’ve said it quite a few times before, but I’m saying it again because I really, truly believe it works. Host some challenges. This is one of the main ways my blog traffic grew when I was first starting out with this brand. I created a challenge years ago that I thought might be fun to do with a few people, but it started sending my site more traffic than any of my other articles. People like to be challenged because they love to reach milestones.
Check out this 30-day challenge by Jen Carrington as an example.
Area #7: Create a challenge your ideal audience would consider extremely important or engaging. Consider surveying some of your audience, family, or friends to see what they think a good challenge might be.
So, what do you think? What are some epic time investments you have made or want to soon make in your business?
Graphic design and article: Regina Anaejionu