online brand strategy

How to Monetize Your Brand as a Coach (without putting all your eggs in one basket)

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Not long ago I was coaching business owners and doing a few remaining freelance projects for a full-time income. While I was coaching, I unintentionally (at first) then intentionally diversified my income and added teaching products into the mix. I was part coach, part infopreneur, part freelancer--which really helped me find the place I could be most effective. But as I was learning and going and making many mistakes, I did definitely see and experience the benefits of monetizing my coaching brand in multiple ways.

If you are looking to get into coaching, or if you want to expand your coaching business through workshops, courses, books, and other passive income, this post is for you. >> Also, this 5-day email course on developing an email list that actually converts to sales 👀might be for you too, but let's get into the main course of the day: how to monetize your brand as a coach without putting all your eggs in one basket.

Let's look at this in terms of services that you can monetize as well as digital and physical products you can monetize.

16 Ways to Monetize Your Coaching Brand

a.k.a. 9 Services and 7 Products that are Super Epic for Coaches and Bloggers

1. Custom 1-on-1 Coaching Calls w/ Friendly Recaps

When you are first getting started in coaching, this will likely be one of the services that is simplest to offer. Now, don't get me wrong. I think you need to plan what it entails along with what you will and won't do, and I do still think it needs a signed client agreement. But, it's a great place to begin because you can figure out what people really want and need, what really troubles people, and where you truly fit as a coach and teacher.

With your custom 1-on-1 calls (Zoom sessions, telephone calls, or even in-person meetings), you'll typically:

  • send your client a questionnaire and/or meet with them to discover their specific needs and where you fit in

  • decide on a timeframe that y'all will work together or set up a rate per meeting or per month

  • send out an agenda before each call (if you have some general talking points for the meeting--and hopefully you do) - bonus points if your agenda is attractive and visually on-brand

  • send out client notes sheets or a link to a shared doc where you client can take notes digitally (optional, but cool) and helps both of you keep track of what you discussed

  • conduct your session (usually 30 - 90 minutes depending on the type of call--this should be clear and communicated ahead of time)

  • (with permission) record your session

  • recap your session via email (and/or send the recording/replay to your client with instructions on how long they have to download the replay to their own computer)

2. 1-on-1 Coaching Program w/ Calls, Check-ins, and Homework

Once you've done custom 1-on-1 coaching for a while, or once you have an understanding of the general steps your audience needs to go through to reach the goals you help them with, you can develop your custom coaching into a program. A coaching program is a framework in which you have the same general steps + processes that you're taking multiple people through individually.

You still check in with your clients, have calls, and provide customized recaps and help to them, but it's all based off of one system.

In a coaching program, you'll usually:

  • give your potential client an overview doc/email that outlines the program, timeline, and steps, to help them decide whether or not it's a good fit

  • have a call/questionnaire that helps you determine if the client is a good fit. You can even do this before you meet by including an integrated form (via Calendly or Acuity Scheduling) when they book their Discovery Call or first session with you.

  • send a welcome kit (optional, but wonderful) with your client's first homework assignment and an invitation to schedule their first call after the homework is completed

  • conduct your first call

  • send the next pre-developed homework assignment (w/ a recap of your call)

  • repeat this process for as long as your program lasts

Note: To fully protect yourself and your client, your signed agreement with them should outline your refund policy, and the point at which the client is forfeiting the rest of their package (ex: you haven't heard from them in 45 days and you've emailed them at their provided email address at least three times).

I once had a web project that lasted over a year because my client would never get back to me but I didn't have a helpful "forfeiture clause" in my agreement--and P.S. I had spent every dime they'd paid me, so I wasn't to keen on refunding them. Side note: The project ended up being super attractive and the client loved their site.

3. Custom 1-on-1 Email Coaching w/ Guaranteed Responses

Imagine this: either one of the options above (1 or 2), but instead of doing calls, you do emails. You can tailor the process to each client (and just agree on a certain timeframe or a certain number of email "meetings"), or you can take your email coaching clients through a specific program (with homework and pre-set steps) and provide customized responses and email support. Bam. Magic. Great for introverts. Email coaching can also help you create the written content for future programs and courses.

4. Group Coaching Program w/ Calls and Homework

Remember that one time, long ago, when we were talking about 1-on-1 coaching programs (#2 above)? Okay, now imagine that, but with more than one person. The client homework would go out to a group of people to complete individually or with accountability partners, and you would also:

  • conduct group calls or video conferencing via Zoom

  • provide recordings to clients who missed (optional, but super kind)

  • choose to focus on one or two people per call (hot seat style) after the main portion of the call has been presented, or choose to address everyone's needs in each call

  • provide a community or means for people to connect outside of your group calls (optional, but epic) such as Slack or Facebook

  • provide recaps, updates, and more homework via email or in the group coaching platform/community

5. Masterminds

Imagine everything we said above, but instead imagine that each week/month has a specific focus (growth, strategy, etc.) or that you are more of a facilitator and cheerleader than you are a direct coach.

You can provide a mastermind group that allows people to benefit mainly from others' ideas and knowledge, but also from the regular accountability, and your presence. Masterminds are hugely popular for good reason. The peer support helps people grow and allows you not to have to provide all of the interaction.

6. In-Person Trainings or Workshops

Think of all the things you coach online 1-on-1 or in groups/masterminds---can it be applied or shared in real life as well?

You can create small workshops, pop-up events, and live trainings to help people with the goals you coach on.

7. Speaking Engagements

This ones pretty self-explanatory, eh? You can definitely decide to speak on the topics you coach on at different events, organizations, and conferences. It's a great way to start to be seen as more of a teacher or "thought leader" (as they say, but if you ever catch me calling myself a thought leader in my bio. . .), and it's a great way to meet new people---some of them might even become your coaching clients

8. Office Hours

Office Hours have quickly become one of our favorite methods of providing coaching, group interaction, and an entry-level price point for new people to work with us.

Perhaps people aren't ready to commit to a coaching program, or perhaps someone really needs some targeted help with this one particular thing that you happen to be epic at, or maybe one of your audience members really wants the opportunity to "pick your brain." Well, that's where office hours come in. You can offer your time and expertise at a rate that's comfortable to you, per hour or per day.

Office hours allow you to help people, make income, address audience pain points directly and swiftly, and keep your ear to the ground about people's current needs and frustrations---which helps you know what packages and products you should offer. The questions asked in Office Hours are a great way to gauge what your audience is interested in for future trainings and offers.

9. Custom Audits or Reports

Often times, your potential clients will be in such a state of overwhelm/confusion, or in such a new place that they feel lost as to how to begin to get out of where they are to move to where they want to be. Also, you may have clients who just feel a slight bit off or frustrated with the current state of things and in need of some direction.

Doing a custom life audit, brand audit, situation report, or other type of organized document/delivery that outlines current areas that need improvement as well as current areas that are doing well, can be a rewarding, simple, and fun type of coaching.

Custom audits and reports are also often a way for you to provide services to people who can't afford your 1-on-1 rates yet.

10. Communities

An online (or real life) community can be an add-on to any of your other products or services, but a community can also easily be its own standalone product. Providing partners, support, a venue, structure, and built-in friends for people who are all at a similar place in life/business is a seriously valuable thing that many people would be happy to pay for.

What is something you've had to struggle through on your own? Learn on your own? Do without support? Would you have enjoyed a community of people in the same position? Would you have paid for it?

Think of a community structure and virtual/physical meeting place you can provide for people. Is it something you'd be willing to add to your offerings? You can consider a Facebook group, Slack workspace, or an ongoing Zoom call as your community platform.

11. Online Workshops w/ Live Q+As

Hosting an online workshop (either with or without cohosts) with Live Q&A allows your audience to interact with you and get real time feedback on their questions. Like in Office Hours 👆🏽, you can also record these workshops for future use and use the questions asked in the sessions to develop further trainings and offers.

12. Pre-Recorded Workshops, Bootcamps, or Conferences

Packaging previously-recorded workshops or bootcamps together as paid products is genius and will help to fill out your standing course library, if you plan to build one.

13. Online Courses

Seriously. Online courses are some of our favorite things in the world. Learning that can happen from your couch, or your cubicle on your lunch break, or during your commute, etc. #Epic and #Accessible

And think about it. You'll be able to package your knowledge, coaching skills, and experience together in a packaged way that allows you to help more people at once, creating more impact.

You can also structure many of your courses in formats that will be almost entirely passive (little to no maintenance) income once you create them.

14. Email Coaching Program (w/out Custom Support)

So, instead of framing your materials as a course and delivering it on some epic, 3rd-party system such as Teachable, you could also frame them as email coaching (sans the custom replies).

"A new coaching session in your inbox each Monday for 8 weeks!" sounds pretty epic. And, it's scalable, because those same sessions can be sent out to 10 people at a time or 10,000 people. #SuperEpic.

Pssssssssst. If you want a free training on creating an email list that actually gets you paid, you can sign up for it right here. 👀

15. eBooks

A digital file that can be automatically delivered to your customers as soon as they purchase it? Yes, my friend, that's about as close to passive income as it gets in this coaching world---and it's a smart way to make additional income while helping your ideal audience who needs items at different price points than your coaching programs and courses.

16. Printed Books and Workbooks

Yessssss. You can use printed books or workbooks with your clients as you take them through your coaching program, you can sell them separately on your site, or you can sell them through Amazon.com and get them fulfilled for you, so that you don't have to ship off each order or accept + process returns. That's brilliant, my friend.

So, if I'm not being too nosy, may I inquire how you currently monetize your coaching business? And how you plan to monetize in the future? I hope this post helped, and I'd love to hear what you've got poppin' in the comments below.

How to Get Serious About Social Media

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Once upon a time in a galaxy far, far away, a friend told me it was time to get serious about my social media strategy. She even went so far as to start my Pinterest account for me. I'll be honest, I didn't see the value at the time, but I have seen the light. Pinterest and social media (in general, along with some good SEO juice) are the greatest sources of traffic to my sites (I run more than one business and social media matters for both of them). In other words, serious social media pays the bills.

I'm glad I had a friend tell me that I needed to start using social media with a serious mindset, so now I want to share with you the top 17 ways I recommend to start authentically using social media for your blog or business.

1. Pick your platforms wisely.

Not only do you not need to be on every single platform to be effective, it can actually be an unwise use of your time (especially as a solopreneur) to try to be on each one. It's really about where your ideal audience is and where you can be most effective for your brand. This is where you’ll need to do some research on where your ideal client is hanging out online and narrowing the scope of where you’ll show up.

And make sure that part of your narrowing process is clearly planning what you'll use each platform for. Write it down. Make it real. Have a plan.

2. #EditorialCalendar it when stuff is important.

^^ That's being used as a verb by the way. This simply means, when you have upcoming product launches, brand launches, important posts, challenges/giveaways you want to promote, etc., it's time to make an editorial calendar of your social media content.

Did she just say that? That sounds like a lot of work.

It is. I don't lie on this blog. Now my other blog is another story. All lies. But here I tell you the truth. It's a lot of work, but it is so rewarding. Go ahead and click on the link (image) below and create a copy of the Google Sheets doc that pops up. This is the level I suggest you go to for any super important posts/products. Plan it out for 10 days or 30 days, whatever the situation calls for. It takes a while up front to do your editorial calendaring (see that verb use?), but you’ll be so glad you did when your brand is telling a cohesive story across your channels.

3. Research people before you respond.

How do all the cool, Snapchat-using kids say it? "I'm so over" people tweeting or commenting on social media before they've taken two seconds to check someone out. I've had people ask me the strangest things, way outside of what I do/know, and I really feel like the 10 seconds it takes to read my Twitter bio or click on the link to my site would have saved them the trouble. Also, you leave such a solid impression when you respond to people based on their needs + interests.

4. Unfollow junk accounts.

Options include Crowdfire app, not for the somewhat middle school activity of unfollowing people just because they unfollow you, but because it allows you to identify people who haven't used their accounts in like seven years. You can unfollow accounts on Twitter and Instagram very simply to keep the people you're following to actual people who actually use these platforms. With other platforms, you may just have to do an audit of who you follow, and unfollow any accounts that aren't really active or that don't add value to your feed. Exceptions would be customers you want to interact with--they totally add value.

5. Follow wisely, my friend.

You're being serious about social media now, and when you’re using social media for your business you kinda have to be purposeful about who you follow. Some platforms have lists or ways to segment the people/brands you follow so you can try to get to your most important content first, but others don't. So if you don't want to crowd your feed with stuff that doesn't help you help others, then you have to be selective. Follow:

  • potential clients/readers

  • leaders in your industry

  • people who inspire you to make your business even more awesome

  • people who just inspire you or have engaging content

  • people you might want to collaborate with

  • people who go out of their way to promote/help you

  • people you like who put out quality content

  • @MindyKaling (just do the right thing here, she's hilarious)

6. Don’t retweet, repost, or repin anything you haven’t checked out first.

Again, you’re serious about social media now. It represents your brand. You can't share something with broken links, super low quality, or something that (gasp) redirects to a totally inappropriate or sketchy page. The Internets will unfollow you if you send them to a place with digital viruses and lousy marketing schemes.

7. Don’t be afraid of the “advanced features” in each platform.

  • Group boards on Pinterest will get your pins and profile in front of more people.

  • Twitter lists will help you organize the people you like and want to see tweets from, and lists will also help you make others feel special when you add them.

  • Facebook Groups and Slack Communities allow you to create deeper connections with like-minded people and potential customers.

  • Twitter chats are epic ways to converse with others and gain new followers.

  • Etc.

No seriously, go create a list in Twitter if you've never done so before. It can be public (when you want everyone to see it and be able to follow it) or it can be private (like when you want to store all your connections who live in a country half way around the world so you can tweet them at specific times or go see what they're up to when you're randomly up at 3 a.m.).

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8. Thank everyone, one person at a time (if possible).

OMG. Thank you @name1, @name2, @name3, @name4, @name5 . . . @name17."

^^ Can usually be re-worded as:

I just didn't feel like thanking you individually."

Except for in the instances when you are in fact Justin Timberlake or when you intentionally want people to be in the same comment.

Your brand may already be at the point where it's just not logical to thank each person for their comment or specific action . . . totally understandable, but perhaps you can try to "favorite" or "like" their comments.

9. Embed the heck out of your social media feeds.

If you're making a point (in a blog post or on a web page) that relates to a specific Pinterest board of yours, plop it in using the Pinterest Widget Builder.

Follow byRegina (blogging + business)'s board Social Media for Champs on Pinterest.

If you're making a point that involves a tweet you once published, embed it. I embedded the tweet below in one of my posts, and it still gets RTs and favorites . . . not because people are going back several months on my Twitter profile, but because it's front and center in a post people still read.

The one word others throw around too much that belittles how hard I know you work: LUCK. If they only knew how many work hours "luck" took.

— Regina Anaejionu (@byReginaTV) August 30, 2014

10. #StyleGuide the photos, hashtags, and wording you'll use in your updates.

When you're making a style guide for your blog or website, add in the specifics of how you'll treat social media. Consistency helps you stand out so, so, so much.

P.S. @Erika_Madden, do you mind if I use you as an example now?
P.P.S. I think we should all go follow Erika now so she won't be mad at me for using her as an example without permission.
P.P.P.S. Just kidding. She probably won't get mad, but let's all go follow her anyways. She's amazing. And she likes LOTR and sushi. Clearly an outstanding human being.

11. Create templates, yo.

Whether it's quotes or sayings (like the examples in Erika's IG account above), or the custom images you'll make each time you share your blog posts or new products on Twitter, make templates for any social media graphics you'll be creating. This will save you time and help you look super organized and consistent.

12. Batch everything.

Like that time you mixed up vegan cookie dough for just one emergency cookie . . . umm, no. Multiple cookies are always necessary so I'm assuming you typically mix enough dough to last you a day or so, right? Well, create your social media images (quotes, questions, challenges, regular pictures of you behind the scenes, etc.) in batches (perhaps 1 - 4 weeks of content at a time). That way you'll never be without something to share, and you'll be that much more likely to stick to the promotion schedule (editorial calendar) you made in #2 above.

13. Buffer (or Hootsuite) all the stuff.

I use Buffer (+ Hootsuite is another similar tool) to load multiple tweets, Facebook posts, etc. at once. So, all that stuff you just batch created . . . now you can schedule it ahead of time and not worry about it.

14. Write a better bio.

Communicate value and your personality in your bio. 👀Try really hard not to just list nouns or adjectives that describe you and your attributes. Try to communicate what makes you you in longer phrases or full sentences. So instead of opting for:

Cat lover. Chocolate lover. Wife. Mom. Friend. Copywriter. Editor."

Please don't get mad at me for that ^^--it just really doesn't stand out as much as:

I help you write words that people remember. I also like cats, and chocolate, or chocolate cats . . . I'm not picky here."

15. Get a better avatar/headshot/profile image.

Hire a photographer, or get handy with natural light and a good editing app. (Hint: VSCO Cam or Snapseed)

16. Similarize (word check: does that exist?) your bios + headshots across all platforms.

#AwkwardTruthMoment: People just don’t know you like that. If you have curly hair and a blue dress on your Pinterest profile and straight hair with a red shirt on Twitter, we might not get that you are the same person. Also, if you talk about your love for cats on Instagram and you only talk about your love for editing works of fiction on Twitter, we might not get that you are the same person.

Your average Internet user looks at 1,307 different faces online each day (most of them poorly lit selfies). I'm totally kidding y'all. I made that stat up. But, seriously . . . we just don't know you like that. Use similar headshots (you know, like either the exact same shot, or you in the exact same setting/outfit) and bios across your platforms.

17. Update your cover photos.

Make them compelling. Make them pop. Make them fitting of the season or of your newest product launch or epic freebie. Whatever you do, don't waste your cover photo space . . . people actually look at them.

Here’s the awesome Ade Aprilia who uses her Facebook cover page .

18. Verify, connect, list, and link.

Verify your site/accounts in Pinterest. Connect your accounts (such as Instagram and Twitter so that you can automatically tweet something you Instagram every so often). List and link your other accounts on each platform (where applicable--so, YouTube should have links to all your other accounts, etc.).

19. Join chats.

Find Twitter chats (or discussions in other social media communities) that focus on topics you love, that can help you learn, or that include a lot of your ideal audience. You will have great conversations, you will gain new followers, you will meet new collaborators, you will likely even find new customers.

My favorite new chat? you ask. #CreateLounge, hosted by the amazing @Kayla_Hollatz.

20. Join communities.

People with like minds, similar challenges/issues/desires, and similar interests often congregate online in Facebook Groups, Slack Communities, group Pinterest Boards, Twitter chats, various website forums, and other online clubs or organizations. When you're taking social media seriously, you're not tweeting on an island . . . okay, bad example, because you can literally tweet from an island and connect with the whole world. But, you know what I mean. You're not tweeting in a bubble . . . okay, you can probably do that too . . .

What I'm trying to say here is: Community is important. When you're using social media for a brand or business, community is everything. Serious social media is not one-sided. It's interactive. It's meaningful. And it's like that one phrase people always use, "You're not tweeting in a vacuum my friend."

That analogy works, right? I'll get it one of these days.

21. Get serious about hashtag research and social media search features.

But Regina, you're telling me to go out and find my ideal clients/readers, and to find like-minded people to connect with on social media, and to do a bunch of other stuff that requires me to actually find these mythical people. How do I do that?

Ahhhhhh, the power of search. Figure out key phrases people might use when looking for content like yours or products like yours, and then search for those phrases. A simple Twitter search of the phrase "need to start a blog" returned tons of results (people saying everything from "I need to start a blog before my site goes live" to "I need to start a blog to help with all these emotions"), so if you were in the business of helping people start blogs, you'd totally have new friends.

P.S. Don't creep people out or annoy the heck out of them when you tweet them by telling them about all your services, instead, congratulate them, converse with them, point them to free resources . . . don't be weird.

While you're in research mode, don't forget to search hashtags on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter. Find out the most popular hashtags among your clients and communities (just do a Google search for "popular hashtags for ____"), and then search for them and use them. Connect with people who use them. You get the point. We're serious about social media now; we can't be lazy.

22. Add value, but also be yourself.

It's part of establishing a "you" brand. You always want to add value, else, why would people follow you? But, you always want to be yourself. In being yourself and sharing things with personality or sharing things other than articles/research, you're giving yourself some wiggle room. If you have a powerful presence as a brand and as a person in one, we'll follow you when you pivot into a new brand or space. Pinky swear.

23. Mix it up.

There are many types of things you can share on social media. Below are my top 25 suggestions for types of content. Click the image below or download your copy here.

24. Create a hashtag.

If you're using social media for your business, you'll perhaps want to look into creating hashtags for your brand, for your products, for your communities, and for your challenges/contests. People are so used to using #hashtags nowadays, that if you create and clearly communicate + use your hashtags, you'll likely find that they slowly catch on. So, when you ship out products, casually let people know each product's specific hashtag. You may find that it reminds people to share your products on Instagram. Or, you may find customers saying stuff about your products (on Twitter for example) who you didn't even know bought your stuff.

You may mess around and create a movement with one of your hashtags. Just don't go crazy; be mindful of the platform you're in. And on Twitter, you probably can't fit more than 3 with your tweet.

25. Create a community, show, or event . . . or host something specific on each platform.

Give people additional incentive to follow you on each platform that you're taking seriously for your blog or business. Hold monthly Q+As on Facebook, a weekly Instagram Live, an occasional Twitter chat, a show on YouTube or FB, or even a scavenger hunt on Instagram or a pin party on Pinterest. Include prizes or free resources the first few times (or permanently). People will love the events and the communities that form around them.

26. Share other people’s stuff and tag them when you do so.

You’ll create some of the most grateful, awesome fans when you share other people’s stuff (on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, wherever). If you’re able to tag the person, they are that much more likely to follow you, to re-share your content, or to love you bunches. Using social media for your brand means stepping out and connecting. You may share to crickets at first, but people will take notice and be appreciative in time.

27. JUST SAY NO to (most) drugs and automated responses.

Just kidding, kids. Say no to all drugs.

Also, if it doesn't look like a human sat down and gave the tweet/post some serious thought in the moment, don't post it, message it, or do it. What I mean is: No auto direct messages on Twitter when someone follows you, no auto tweets through a third-party app thanking the five people who retweeted you that week, and no post that simply shares the name of a product and a link ("Gold leaf scarf http://awkwardurl234567here.com").

None of these things look like an actual human sat down and gave the post some thought. Using social media effectively for your brand means standing out. Automated, impersonal, uninteresting posts do not qualify and in fact, they damage your brand as a whole.

28. Ask for help.

People love to help you and give you feedback. Whether you're asking what color you should release a new product in, asking if anyone knows someone who does _____, or asking people for advice on a certain topic, people will commit to memory those that they help and those that are appreciative of said help. When you're first building your accounts up, you might mention or tag someone directly (and without being creepy) to ask for their expertise on something . . . or you might just throw your question out into Internet land with an applicable hashtag and hope someone sees it. Either way, give it a try.

29. Switch up your post based on the platform.

That one time you saw someone post the exact same wording across all eight platforms they use. That was so interesting, right? (Insert an unamused emoji face here and while you’re at it, do use emojis to spice things up a bit in Internetland.)

Different platforms call for different hashtags, lengths of posts, wording, vibes, and images. Take advantage of the specific communities you've connected with on each platform. Delight them in different ways, and always, always optimize your images and words for the platform you're on.

30. Get handy with the editing tools.

Make your quotes and images look spiffy with free tools like Canva, VSCO Cam, and Pixlr.

31. Put your URL on it.

  • Stuff gets lost on the Internet. Have you ever found an image and wish you knew the original source? Can you imagine a potential reader coming across a great article on Pinterest but getting frustrated when the pin doesn't lead back to the original source? Ditto Google Image search. That wouldn't happen if your URL was on the image.

  • Images get stolen and misused on the Internet. A super sweet blogger emailed me a while back to let me know that some of my images (along with several other bloggers' images) were being used by a shady guy on his Pinterest board to get traffic back to his site. So, whereas it looked like you were clicking on a picture that would take you to my piece on How I Started Making a Full-time Blogging Income, you were actually being taken to his site. The only way my new blogger friend was able to alert me to his image theft, was because my URL was on my pin.

  • Including your URL or logo, or both, is a great way to reenforce your brand identity.

So, what do you think? Maybe make the information above into an R&B slow jam? Agreed.

32. READ. Because readers are leaders.

Find a book about social media in general (The Art of Social Media // Grow Your Blog Traffic with Social Media) or a book about the specific platform you want to study in the moment. As power users, let's make power moves and really explore all the features and uses of the platforms we choose to be on.

33. Stop, go back, and use the person's name.

When replying, when contacting, when asking something, when breathing, when freaking sneezing, use the person's name. People like to hear/read their own names. People like when you take time to address them personally.

Now . . . I'll give you the instances where people make their names too ridiculously hard to find. Like when their Instagram and Twitter handle are brand names, and their website bios don't have their names, and all their posts are signed "M." >> they just don't want you to have the information you need. Abort mission. But other than that, use the person's name.

How else do you get serious about social media? What do you spend most of your social media time doing? Planning, posting, finding people, thinking of what to say, designing images? Holla at me in the comments about it.

How to Create a Brand Statement in Only 10 Minutes

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If there’s one thing you and I know, with our extensive legal training (from watching The Good Wife, Scandal, and other legal dramas), it’s that when you cross-examine a witness, you need to lead them carefully with pointed questions that require specific, short answers. We want yes/no, or we want very brief sentences that confirm what we already know. It’s almost like we train witnesses to fall into our evil ploy. They can’t help but answer us exactly how we want them to, which is amazing, because when witnesses drop those courtroom shock bombs on you, it’s no bueno . . . at least, not for your side of the case.

And that, my friends, is (obviously) all related to brand statements. So much so that I bothered my brother (a lawyer) for several minutes trying to figure out if what I was saying was at least a smidgen factual. Actually he was very courteous with my questions; I’ll introduce him to you soon. And just wait, because if you think I’m a crazy person . . . but, moving on.

Brand statements and courtroom strategy.

We’d love to hear the connection Regina. Oh good. Because I really want to tell you. . . here it is:

If you answer the question, “So, what do you do?” with a trained, short, unengaging response, it might be time for a (new) brand statement---or even a new brand (but that’s a story for another post . . . In fact, answering this question like you're being cross-examined is the main, undeniable sign you need a new brand statement.

I wrote this post and developed a brand statement formula out of necessity really. I was so tired of answering, "I'm a blogger" with my head down, like it was something to be ashamed of or that it wasn’t a real job. Like it would take up SO much of a person's time to answer in a bit more detail. When we become embarrassed or complacent with what we do, or when we find it hard to proudly present our brand to the world, conversations go something like this: 

Random person at a “networking” event: “So, what do you do?” You: “Oh, I’m a graphic designer.” Rando McGruff: “Wow. Cool.” The end. 

Mr. McGruff will barely remember this graphic designer in five minutes, and tomorrow, no chance.

Why didn’t you give more detail? 

“I design clickworthy websites + blogs for wellness entrepreneurs. I’m Fiona Reddington, FionasFitBrands.com. Slight cheese factor, I know, but that’s totally me.”

 

“I work as a wedding designer with women who want seriously non-traditional yet hip weddings on a budget. It’s the most fun ever. I'm actually finishing up work on The Ultimate Indie Wedding Planner, which is a 200-page planning binder. So excited.”

 

“I speak to college students about branding themselves and building a solid platform way before graduation. The market is not what it once was, and it seems more and more like people need something beyond, or something other than, a degree to find meaningful work.”

Sure, you have to judge the situation. Not everyone asking should get your full life story, but if someone answered you with one of the answers above when you asked the “What do you do?” question, would you be more likely to remember them? Or check out their website later? Or remember to mention them to a friend/colleague in need of services such as theirs?

Brand statements, yo. 

Which are, statements that define a brand. Kinda like mission statements. Bite-sized collections of information that help people decide how serious you are about your brand, what your brand even stands for, why what you do matters, and how what you do is different from the 107 people they met (yesterday) who claim to do the same thing. 

And. It’s not that the crafting of a brand statement is difficult (I’m gonna show you a formula below), it’s that we forget to do it. It’s that we don’t realize how necessary it is sometimes. It’s that we are all flailing about in business to a certain degree, figuring things out as we go, and sometimes we forget to go back and define what we’ve built.

Today is your day. The day you build a brand statement.

The day you stand up and stand out with your words---in a sea of people walking around with “I’m a graphic designer” responses.

Forgive me. I was so bored with that, I fell asleep just typing it.

What I’m about to share is neither rocket science nor business genius. It’s a simple exercise we can all do to make sure we have a solid brand statement on deck. To make sure we’re answering people as completely as possible when they ask us about our work. To make sure we give our brand a chance to form a strong, memorable impression. Just going through this process will give you more clarity on who you plan on serving, ideas about ways you can serve them (both free and paid product or services) and focus on what your priorities should be. >> In fact, this is a mini version of our free 5-day email course which you might want to check out right here.

And now, here's how to write a brand statement:

Get out four note cards. Or sticky notes. Or any moveable paper product. Write down the following things, one on each card.

1. Who do you serve?

Hint: Be more specific than whatever you just wrote down.

2. Why do you care?

3. What do you actually provide?

4. What do you offer that’s different from everyone else?

Once you have these items on notecards, all we have to do is move them around to the correct order, abridge some stuff, and make it work. I’ll show you what I mean. Let's use our crazy wedding planner as an example.

Who do you serve? Brides who want non-tradish weddings on a budget.

Why do you care? Because I was a 20-something with no money who met the love of my life and wanted to get married, without all the traditions that made zero sense to me. It was hard to plan my wedding. I want to help make it simpler for others.

What do you actually provide? Supportive semi-monthly check-ins + co-planning of a wedding.

What do you offer that’s different? Step-by-step guidance via DIY materials. Having pre-packaged materials helps me keep costs low while giving the bride control over the process. I’m still able to help tailor plans to a bride’s desires through check-ins.

Now, let’s try a brand statement in a few different orders:

I help brides who want non-traditional weddings, like the one I had when I had no money but needed to put something together in five weeks. I want other brides to have a simpler, guided process, so I offer DIY planning materials and tailored check-ins to help people through their indie wedding planning. [who you help >> why you care >> what's different + what you provide]

I’m a non-traditional wedding planner. As in, I help brides plan non-traditional/indie weddings on a budget, but I also do it non-traditionally through DIY materials to keep costs low. It’s the service I needed but didn’t have when I got married. [what you provide/do >> who you help >> what's different >> why you care]

I use DIY wedding planning materials and tailored check-in meetings to co-plan weddings with non-traditional brides on a budget.  It's the guidance I wish I’d had when planning my own indie wedding in five weeks. It was crazypants, and I don’t want other brides to have to go through it. [why it's different + what you do >> who you help >> why you care]

In 2 - 3 sentences you can stand out, be firm about why you do what you do, show some personality, and clearly define your brand and who you serve. 

I’m listening. Leave me your brand statement in the comments of this post, or come talk to me on social media. I want to hear. And hey, if you want to get really clear about you who serve (or want to serve), we highly suggest you sign up for our free 5-day email course on building your email list with the right people. . . AKA people who will actually buy from you.

35 Ways to Find Your First Clients

35-Ways-To-Find-Your-First-Client.001.jpeg

Okay, let's be serious for a moment, ninja friend. Whether you're an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, the act of going out and "pushing" your products and services on a stranger is not necessarily your favorite activity. Sure, to "get your name out there" some active recruiting methods may be necessary at first, but you're probably also interested in setting yourself up with a long-term strategy of clients coming to you. I feel you. So, the list directly below shares 15 ways to get your first customers through active recruiting; the second list below shows 20 ways to begin to get customers to come to you.

Active Ways to Get New Clients

1. Get the word out to family and friends in a meaningful way.

I had a friend launching a business + blog who chose a method that I now love to use and help other people use: she wrote (actual) personalized + purposeful messages to each person. This may sound very "duh" to you, but make sure each time you reach out, you include:

  • a personal note that lets someone know this is not the same canned email/message 300 other people got; make a connection on a hobby, interest, desire, or need of theirs

  • a brief description of the type of work you are doing now and why it's so important to you

  • the ways in which your friend/contact can help you (Do you want referrals if your friend knows someone in need of your services? Do you want people to share your message?)

  • a clear way for people to practically do what you're asking/hinting (for example: if you're asking for people to share your brand on Facebook, give them a brief description and picture "if they so choose to use it" . . . or if you're asking for referrals from a good friend, give them an idea of what they could email out to others--and perhaps even give them a sweet freebie to distribute)

  • a sincere "thank you" for the person's time in reading your message and in helping you any way they see fit

Are you at a loss for where to pull personal connections from other than your phone's contact book and Facebook friends list? Think of people you may know through:

  • volunteer work you do

  • organizations you belong to (clubs, a church, associations, sports)

  • your spouse or family connections

  • former workplaces

  • friends of friends

  • former school buddies or connections

In general, people have a desire to help you in whatever ways are understandable and convenient for them. Your close friends will probably even desire to help you when it's not convenient. Either way, give people as many tools as possible and show how grateful you are for their time and whatever action they may be completing on your behalf.

2. Create a social crowdfunding campaign.

Sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter are not just good for the $$, but also the exposure. Several products have become somewhat to all the way "Internet famous" after a crowdfunding campaign.

Why? Friends, and even people who don't know you, are motivated to share your brand and your campaign if they connect with something about it, or to simply support small businesses that provide something meaningful. You can use one of these sites to launch/re-launch a business, a book, a product, a product line, a creative project, really almost anything. 90% of the projects that I've supported are by people I don't know at all. Crowdfunding campaigns have a way of bringing out strangers and making them friends.

Crowdfunding even allows you to get out there and start providing consulting services if you want to. Two examples for ya: (1) A woman here in Austin "sold" $1000 consulting packages as some of the prizes for supporting her book release. No seriously, look at this thing. She raised almost $12,000. (2) A couple here in Austin who also listed $1000 consultations, among other prizes, for the release of their book raised over $10,000.

Raise money through crowdfunding and get clients

Raise money through crowdfunding and get clients

3. Team up with an established brand/provider in the same field to tackle a larger project together.

Offer your services up to them as an independent contractor. For example: if you're a WordPress coach/developer, work with another WordPress consultant who may be able to use your help on a huge upcoming project.

4. Team up with an established brand in a complementary field.

If you're a social media strategist, team up with the WordPress coach in the example above to help clients with a full online presence.

5. Pro bono part of the project.

So, you want your clients to pay you, obviously, but what about making part of the project free? If you're teaching someone how to use social media for their business, why not charge for crafting the action plan and report you develop, but make all your check-ins and scheduled calls free for one month. Or, if you're coaching clients through home births, how about creating the plan for free and recommending the equipment they'll need, but then charging for the day of delivery?

Doing work pro bono is not a long-term strategy, simply a way to get paying/reviewing/excited initial clients in the door; people who will spread the word about you and help you add to your portfolio.

6. Do some good ol' fashioned advertising.

  • Facebook and Instagram ads (which can be targeted to a person's location, habits, interests, and preferences)

  • Google/Yahoo!/Bing

  • Craigslist

  • magazines

  • swag and promotional items such as vehicle magnets, if applicable

  • blog/website ads

  • etc.

7. Search Craigslist for people looking for a service in your area of expertise.

Don't just use Craigslist to list your services, use it to find people already looking for someone like you. A lot of the work people need can be done virtually, so search a few cities.

8. Contact past people you’ve done similar work for.

At a past job, or for a friend, or as a part of a former business idea, you've likely done work related to your current passion. Contact the people you've done this work for and check for three things:

  • referrals (to others that may pay you for your services)

  • testimonials (that you can add to your website or other materials)

  • new work from the person you're contacting (you can always phrase your communication as if you're only seeking referrals or testimonials, but you can also let your contact know what you currently do and show off your shiny new website and packages or free download in the hopes that they'll hire you for something new--you can also just outright ask if they need any new work done)

9. Update your personal social media circles in general.

So maybe you don't feel comfortable sending a personal message to everyone you know. Maybe you're like me and overwhelmed by the thought of emailing mere acquaintances about your new business. Well, update your social platforms with status updates viewable by anyone. Include a snippet of what you do, who you serve, and why you do it, along with pictures, freebies, and links to related resources and services on your website. Do this with the following platforms:

  • LinkedIn

  • personal Facebook page

  • Google+ page

  • personal Twitter profile

  • . . . and so on

10. Consider joining "online deals" or "specials" sites and programs.

Most sites like the ones above will send out discounts/deals to your products and services to a targeted list of consumers (who've expressed interest in your category of "stuff" and/or who live in your area). Make sure to include constraints on your offer such as a limited quantity so that you’re not overwhelmed by the response.

11. Send old fashioned and attractive mail.

If you are marketing to businesses or neighborhoods that you can easily look up addresses for, consider some purposeful and attractive mail pieces--flyers, invitations, offers, letters, a brochure/book of your services, etc. Below are some mail pieces I designed for this exact purpose.

Get new clients through mail pieces

Get new clients through mail pieces

12. Ask for feedback when the answer is “no.”

If people decline your services, asking "why?" can allow you to clarify anything they're fuzzy on or present a more compelling case (or talk to a better audience) next time. But, you'll often find ways to make a sale (even if it's a less expensive package) to people who are hesitant to try something new at first.

13. Find online forums, sites, and groups where your ideal clients hang out and strike up conversations with them or answer their questions.

Forums like Quora, Facebook groups, and LinkedIn groups are a smart way to answer questions and provide value to your ideal clients, as well as to expand your network.

14. Email people with an "openable" subject line.

"I want to work for you for free," and "I'd like to give you a free website assessment," or a less-spammy version of the same, will likely grab someone's attention. Once they're interested, or once they have their free product/service in hand and love it, why would they not want to hire you?

15. Give free consultations at a local coffee shop or your potential client’s place of business.

Once you get "the sit down" with a potential client and prove you know your stuff and can think of ways to help them, you'll get more and more paying customers.

Ways to Set Yourself Up So Clients Will Find You

16. Give away a lot of value.

Whether you're attaching some freebies/downloads to your emails in #14 above, responding to prospect emails, writing a post on your blog, drafting a tweet or an Instagram post, or creating an epic image for Pinterest, build in a ton of free value. It is the stuff that makes people remember you; it is what makes people want to share you; and it also makes people want to buy from you instead of someone else who doesn't create as much value.

"If he/she is this helpful for free, what would their paid products be like?" <-- Is what your audience will think. Giving away value is your best marketing tool and best way to turn onlookers into participators and buyers. Not only does this make smart business sense in the long run, but it’s also just a great way to be a helpful human.

17. Create social media accounts and connections for your business or update your online presence for the ones you already have.

Having a branded Facebook page, Instagram account, and Google+ page is way different than overwhelming your friends with constant business posts on your personal profiles. So, you know, make it happen.

If you already have business pages/profiles, write some new more compelling social media bios and descriptions, spice them up with professional graphics, make sure they all work together cohesively.

For your personal social accounts, update your bios, create/add new pictures, a new email signature, a new LinkedIn job/position, a new Gmail chat status, a new Twitter background, etc.

Be active socially. Be where your clients are and don't be silent. (pssst. We teach how to create these graphics in our epic Visual Arsenal 3.0, which is only available to our SERVE Academy members.)

18. Add "shareability" everywhere for your brand.

Use services like ClickToTweet.com (which makes it simple to pre-compose an exact tweet for a reader, for free), or encourage people to "pin a post for later," and add simple share buttons on your blog site so that people will be reminded to share and will have an easy time sharing your brand. For WordPress users, you can also use the premium plug-in Social Warfare to make it even easier to share (and track shares for social proof).

19. Give free/affordable seminars on your topic at local colleges, community centers, meetings, or other venues of your choice.

I originally started doing seminars as a way to share my passions, but I started getting lots of referrals and clients from people who attended these events.

20. Give free online trainings in your area of expertise.

Bonus points if you subtly make it gateway content into some of your valuable packages or paid products. Consider using Zoom and/or YouTube to host these for free.

21. Build an email list and send regular, helpful emails.

You know, the kind where you give tips, encouragement, and resources that people aren't really going to find elsewhere . . . or that people won't find elsewhere in such an organized and humorous format. Writing regular emails that people actually want to read is one of the best time and skill investments you can make. Building an email list with a smart, human way with people who will actually buy from you is so important that we created a whole free 5-day course about it.

22. Create some online listings for your business.

Consider free places such as:

. . . also consider paid sites in your niche (if you think they'll be effective, but remember to track this through actual website analytics), or other free sites where your clients are likely to look up service providers or businesses.

23. Host a challenge/competition that gets people motivated to make strides on a goal that's in your area of expertise.

Make a group (on Facebook, Google+, or some other network), or host a challenge from your blog. Give participants resources, encouragement, and camaraderie as they accomplish their goals. If you're a personal trainer, think "ab challenge," or a diet coach might do a "cleanse group" while a social media manager might do a "Twitter Superstar in 30 Days" activity.

24. Host a plain 'ol giveaway.

This will spread your brand name, awareness of your services, and provide you with a lucky recipient who may hire you once they receive their free goodies and love you.

25. Guest post on related blogs and sites where your clients hang out.

This helps you reach an audience that you might not have otherwise gotten to speak to. When your audiences's favorite bloggers start to host you on their blogs, people are probably inclined to trust you (at least a bit at first) and like you.

26. Craft and release a social press release.

Which is like a regular press release, but done online and made to look amazing. Looking for ideas? Try pitchengine.com or pressitt.com.

27. Attend conferences and classes your clients are likely to go to.

It's certainly dandy to attend conferences where you meet people like you and get to grow and learn with others in your field. It can help you meet people for points 3 and 4 above, but, your clients typically aren't hanging out at these places. Go to the conferences your customers will be at.

28. Join associations or meetups your clients will be a part of.

Ditto above. The benefit is, you'll usually be the only person in your field who is at the meetup.

29. Use the power of social search to find people looking for the things you offer.

Search Twitter for a few key phrases and start interacting with (and helping) people who are saying these things. If you're a business consultant, you might search for people saying, "I need to start my own business," or "I hate my job," etc.

30. Develop a well-designed and well-written services page and PDF (to attach to emails or print out for potential clients) that clearly explain the benefits of working with you.

31. Build your testimonials collection and portfolio, constantly.

32. Write an informative and attractive blog post on your new services and/or your new business direction.

33. Become a sponsor of a blog or two that your audience frequents.

Bloggers will often promote you through unique posts (like DIYs), links in their sidebars, posts from their social media accounts, their newsletters, and even their videos.

34. Sponsor related events or events that your clients are likely to attend.

They'll get to see your brand name and meet you. Bueno.

35. Make a big deal out of your launch.

Throw a party, write a blog post, host a giveaway, do a month-long special sale and online event, put on multiple webinars, create stunning graphics for all your social media accounts, etc. Just be the big deal you are, okay?

P.S. The methods on this second list work so well to begin bringing customers to you because these actions are items that:

  • prove your willingness and strong desire to help others

  • show that you're an effective educator

  • prove you are a giving person and likely an enjoyable person

  • establish your expertise

  • get people excited about your paid products

  • give people joy in sharing such a useful resource

Whereas you want to use some of the methods in the first list above that lead directly to paying clients, you'll also want to establish a long-term strategy of building a brand that makes people come seek you out, that pops up in people's social feeds (in a good way), and that sticks out in online searches and accounts that your clients regularly use.