Just in case at any point this year you’re sitting around wondering if there's a unique weekend adventure you can embark on to help scale your business, I recommend bookmarking and saving this article. There's lots to come back to. And if you experience a slow point with your business, you can use one of these activities to make sure you're still growing and building.
P.S. This post was originally published in January 14, 2014, but has since been revamped and republished.
P.P.S. If you want a book version of this that has some expanded (and some different) weekend activities (10 in total are in the book), you can grab it right here, for free, yo.
14 Ideas You Can Choose from (This Weekend) to Help Streamline and Scale Your Business
1. Launch the MVP (minimum viable product) version of your program or course.
If you want to test out a course/training idea before building the full thing, then creating a landing page and the minimum viable product version of your course is your new best friend.
Check out the checklist below for an idea of what goes on your MVP course landing page, but also check out the video directly below (ignore my voice that sounds like I'm fighting allergies---I was) that reviews some of my favorite MVP landing pages people made (some, in just one weekend) during a challenge I hosted.
The MVP Course Landing Page Checklist Here's what you'll want to have on hand or do:
working title for your program or course
URL for your landing page
rough outline of course content
optional: hashtag for your program or course
trademark check and Google check (this is a good idea because you will be using this name and brand in commerce)
bonus freebie related to your program or course topic (think: checklist, tutorial, workshop, challenge, mini-course, or other resource you can send via email to interested audience members in exchange for their email address)
mockup of your bonus freebie
professional email address (this can be at your main business domain or your new course domain)
high-quality photo of a scene related to your topic or of you to use on your MVP course landing page and/or in your marketing emails
content idea list related to your program or course topic (you can use this to send out engaging resources and keep your audience members engaged before your program or course launches - this is exactly what we cover in our sales cycle and email list-building email course.)
optional: info packet about your program or course
optional: link and payment method to reserve a spot
2. Make a plan to crowdfund something.
Crowdfunding is kinda what it sounds like---a crowd (whether 10 people or 10,000) funding your idea. You can use sites like Indiegogo and Kickstarter to run your own crowdfunding campaign (which usually includes "prizes" for people who fund you, since the money is not a loan, you don't have to pay it back).
Crowdfunding campaigns are good not just 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. 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 even allows you to get out there and start providing consulting services if you want to. Two examples for you: (1) A woman I know in real life "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 who wrote a children's book also listed $1000 consultations, among other prizes, for the release of their book and raised over $10,000.
3. Create an online quiz with helpful results or a “prescription” of sorts.
One of the most irresistible types of audience magnets or freebie opt-ins (translation: something people will give you their email address to access) is an online quiz people can take to get some clarity in a field/goal they're interested in.
Discover Your Brand Tone: Are you a Serious Sally or a Irreverent Irene?
Take the Content Prescription Quiz---Know What to Send to Your Audience via Email and Why
Take the Build Your Email List with People Who Will Actually Buy From You email course
What's Your Dating Style? Take This Quiz to Find Out Why You're Getting Bored So Fast
Why are quizzes so powerful though?
Well, not only do they appeal to the thing most humans have where we like to talk about ourselves and understand ourselves better, but they also provide you as the brand owner a unique opportunity that few other "opt-in magnets" offer: you can easily create some "next steps" prescriptions or recommendations based on the results people get from your quiz.
One thing I highly recommend, always, is to know where your customer is in their journey of whatever it is you help with. Let's take a slide from our email list-building and sales cycle program - SERVE Academy - to illustrate this point and tie it into the power of quizzes.
Let's say you're a personal trainer or a nutritionist (or both) who is specifically helping people with weight loss. Your clients may be at many points on the "Interest to Action Spectrum" . . . and keep in mind, there may be even more points/stops than the illustration below, this is something each brand owner must logically imagine, experience, and build for themselves. (Btw, this powerful "Interest to Action Spectrum" is something we teach in SERVE, our email-list building and sales cycle academy.)
Can you imagine how the free content, and perhaps even the paid product or service, you'd want to serve to a person in Position A (truly making up their mind to lose weight) should be different than the content and product you present to someone in Position C (already committed, already on some sort of program)?
To A, you might want to create a series that helps them envision the benefits of weight loss then talks about the healthiest ways to go about it. You might pitch a low-cost eBook or consultation session.
To C, you might want to create a series that helps your audience see the benefits of the methods you teach and builds on their spirit of commitment that is already present. You might pitch a free coaching call or 3-month online program to this person who has already shown the ability and desire to act.
See what I mean?
And guess what?
With a quiz, you can use your magical genius mind and ask questions that help you see which place on the "Interest to Action Spectrum" your new audience member is, and you can create multiple different follow-up sequences (via email, for example) and content pieces to meet them where they are and move them towards where you are.
Awesome, right? I like to use Typeform for quizzes, but you might also try Interact. And psst---if you are a part of SERVE Academy, one of the first lessons inside the epic bonus Audience Magnet Arsenal contains two tutorial videos that show you exactly how I designed my popular quiz with 16 different results paths.
4. Create some standard reply emails that you can quickly personalize whenever a potential client emails you.
I use the Gmail extension/app called "Canned Responses" to have some pre-loaded emails ready to go that I can customize for the person/situation I'm responding to. This saves me (or perhaps even a virtual assistant you hire to help you) a ton of time in my inbox.
Think of creating standard responses for:
someone asking you if you have any openings in your coaching/freelance schedule
someone asking for recommendations for _____ (whatever question you get frequently)
someone who wants more information about your _____ (most popular product or service)
times when you're not taking on new clients and want to direct people to other options or to your waitlist
emails in which someone is thanking you for your work/articles/resources/etc. and you want to respond graciously
emails in which you need to urge your client to get back to you in a more timely manner for a project you're trying to complete for them---drafting this beforehand will make it not as painful/hard when you have to actually customize and send it
when you are a bit overloaded but want to acknowledge that you got the person's email
any other situations/needs you run into frequently with your particular brand and audience members
5. Take an online class this weekend to learn a new helpful/creative skill.
Skillshare is highly recommended for online classes. You can also find amazing things on Udemy and through a general YouTube search.
You can even learn the fundamentals of building an email list with people who will actually want to buy from you (with moi), or go for something not directly related to what you do that will help spark some new creativity. Think about:
graphic design courses
speed reading courses
dating or self-love courses
6. Volunteer some pro bono work to a charity, business, or other organization.
Now only will it be good for the world and good for your portfolio, but a little free work for an organization can:
offer you further experience in something you want to do more of
get you some referral clients from the client you do pro bono for
allow you to possibly offer the free work as a giveaway that people can nominate their organization or that of a friend for
In these ways above ^^, you can use pro bono work to grow your business, even if it just expands your portfolio or the roster of client logos and testimonials of entities you've done work for.
7. Create an engaging challenge for your audience.
A while back, when I was studying for one of my fitness certifications, we spent a good portion of time on the science of motivating people to do things that are good for them . . . even when they might not feel like it or might not know exactly what to do.
This certainly fits for working out for many people, but it can also fit for other things . . . like getting clearer skin, or becoming profitable with your craft business, or learning how to do your own home repairs, or mastering a new language . . . we want the end result, but sometimes the frustrating or repetitive training/actions to get there are not desirable.
But, even if you teach people something they absolutely love every single step of the way, motivating people in smart ways can definitely be worth your time. And your audience will love you for it because they're actually getting results.
Challenges are so powerful because they organically help motivate people by providing small wins, which helps people increase their self-efficacy.
Self-efficacy is basically your confidence in your ability to achieve a specific goal or complete a task. Think about something that is either a bit daunting or that seems wholly insurmountable to you at times. For some people it might be achieving fluency in a new language, for others it might be switching to eating a vegan/plant-based diet.
Now, think of someone extremely approachable and friendly coming along . . . someone who used to be equally overwhelmed by the same task but has now mastered it. Pretend they take you step-by-step through it. Maybe they start by explaining everything vegans can eat and they make you a delicious dish that's better than anything you've eaten in months.
Maybe you think, "Okay, well, I can do it for a day.”
Then, maybe they come over and show you how to prepare an amazing vegan breakfast and lunch. All you know are those two meals, but you get good at them.
Maybe you think to yourself, "Okay, well, actually, I can do this for a few days."
And so on. When the person showed you how to make two meals that you were able to make well, your self-efficacy increased. You believed in your ability to make an enjoyable vegan meal. And this probably also led you to logically believe that there are other vegan meals you can prepare well.
Even though it may just be a week's time, how much would your outlook on trying to switch to a plant-based diet change after those successful experiences?
You can design your challenge to create small wins for your audience that majorly affect their beliefs about their capabilities. This can have a lifelong affect on someone and increase their overall confidence so much.
That is powerful . . . and should not (in my opinion) be taken lightly.
The first challenge I crafted for my audience was what I like to call a “happy accident.” You know those times when you mess up something in Photoshop and end up loving it? Or those times when you plan a 30-day challenge that you think only a handful of people will care about and it turns out to be one of the things that grows your brand the most in a certain year?
Yeah. Creating my 30-Day Creative Business Cleanse was my happy accident of 2014, and I want you to have one too, except on purpose.
Planning what you want your audience to accomplish, what you want them to feel, how involved you will be during the challenge, and the format and delivery of the challenge content will help. Head to the next page for info on the types of challenges you can create.
Types of Engaging Challenges You Can Try With Your Audience
1. Habit-Forming Challenges (typically spread over a specific timeline) Ex: 14 Days to Yoga (for newbies who’ve never done yoga)
2. Habit-Changing Challenges (usually done over a specific number of days/weeks) Ex: The 6-Week Sugar Elimination Challenge
3. Cleanses or Detoxes (which can really fit in as one of the above challenges) Ex: 30-Day Creative Business Cleanse
4. Goal-Based challenges (with the ideal final result of goal completion) Ex: Sew Your Own Dress Challenge
5. Activity-Based Challenges Ex: February Photo-a-Day
6. Knowledge-Gaining Challenges Ex: Learn Spanish for Tourists in 3 Weeks
7. People-Based Challenges Ex: The 4-week Date Your Spouse Challenge Ex: 30-Day Business Cleanse for Freelancers
8. Fun Challenges Ex: The 30-Day Guide to Getting Flirty in Your Thirties
9. Awareness Challenges Ex: Live Trash Free for a Week
8. Spend some time learning (really, really learning) a social media platform you think might be valuable to your business.
For example: Play around in Pinterest for a few days. Note the pins that draw your attention, read descriptions and see which ones are most effective, find some top pinners in your industry and see what they’re doing right.
Learn the slang, etiquette, and way of life on the social media channel of your choice. Read a book on it, find some good blog posts on it, and then dive into creating content for your business social media profile/page.
9. Get some new photos of you, your products, your office, or your customers enjoying your products. Doing this in a large weekend batch will give you content for weeks/months to come.
Whether you get some professional photos taken (which is a great idea to lend credibility to you) or you learn a few photography tricks with your iPhone or Android device, new pictures always entice readers, regular visitors, new visitors, social media followers, etc.
Plus, have you ever noticed that you’re more excited about promoting something when you have an awesome image of it? Even if you offer a digital service (such as online coaching or a freelance service), you can get images of you at work or images that represent the kind of work you do. If you're a digital business owner, you have the opportunity to get creative with how you present your work visually.
10. Create an arsenal of visual templates that complement each other.
For some examples, check out the list of "5 Graphic Templates to Make and Use for Your Brand" below. (psssst. We cover all of this in our Visual Arsenal 3.0, which is currently not sold separately but is available to members of our SERVE Academy. Just sayin'.)
1. Article, podcast episode, or blog post templates Shoot for a well-designed graphic that is perhaps Pinterest-friendly (so maybe 800x1200 pixels) that you can use for posts, articles, or other resources you will create more than once. When you make templates (like Jorden of WritingRevolt.com does), you will save yourself tons of time and create brand consistency.
2. “Click to share” graphics As an attractive way to encourage more people to share your blog posts, emails, and other resources, consider making “click to Tweet” or “tweet this” graphics. You can even consider making share graphics for Facebook or other platforms—just make sure you link the image to Facebook/Twitter/etc. with a ready-to-go post to be shared. You can use the site clicktotweet.com to help.
3. Infographics When you want to display information graphically (which of course explains the term: info-graphic), there are a few tools (my favorites are Canva and Piktochart) to help you. They make creating attractive infographics fun and fast.
You can use infographics inside emails and blog posts, on your funnel signup page or sales page, and so much more.
4. Facebook ads Whether you create an image like the one below to promote your free meditation series or you dip your toes into video ads, budgeting a little each month to boost your Facebook Page posts or to create custom ads can be a very solid idea when you’re trying to grow your audience and sell your products. Having some pre-designed templates can drastically cut down the time and hassle to get a successful ad up and running.
5. Email headers Though you don’t have to use images in your emails, if you choose to do so, creating a header (like the example above to the right) for your content can help remind your audience member what they’re receiving, re-engage them in your content, and get them excited to scroll down and read.
To discover 5 more types of graphic templates I recommend making during your weekend of creating your Visual Arsenal, don't forget to download the 10 Things You Can Do for Your Business This Weekend to Scale It eBook.
11. Create a physical product that you don't have to carry inventory for or fulfill orders on.
Not only can you create services, digital tools, and scalable "passive income" information products for your audience, but you can also consider:
Physical tools or products that help your clients
Physical products that have branded themes or fun messaging
Printed books, workbooks, etc. that customers can use
And the awesome thing is there are ways for you to get other companies/providers to process your client orders, create the products, and ship them to customers for you. This is called 3rd-party fulfillment. What kinds of things can you get created for you?
Here are some ideas of products you can create (and get fulfilled for you):
iPhone + iPad skins
And so, so, so much more
To create products like the ones listed above, check out companies such as:
And if you're creating books or workbooks, don't forget companies such as:
12. Spend the weekend "Buffering" all your current posts/videos/audio/resources to your social media accounts. Use unique phrases and schedule enough content for 1 - 3 months.
There are many scheduling tools you can use for this, but my favorite is Buffer.
13. Create a funnel to educate and entertain your audience as well as to sell to them.
A funnel is simply one or more of your ideal audience members being drawn in by an amazing resource or gift you offer, then being taken through a series of content pieces you've created, in which each piece is meant to: (1) educate and motivate your audience to act on something helpful to them, and (2) accomplish a specific brand goal for you.
My belief is that even though your funnel may have one general goal, the most feel-good, customer-centric, and sensitive funnels are ones that are highly valuable even if someone doesn't purchase anything and/or ones that have a few stop-off points for people just in case your end goal is not what they need.
To illustrate what a funnel is, let's take the example of my totally real friend (I didn't make him up or anything) named Theo to illustrate extremely helpful funnels. In this content series, Theo is not only selling his $35 guide to being a digital nomad in Playa del Carmen, but he is also dishing out essential, valuable information for people who might only need a few additional details or for people who can't yet afford his book.
That funnel looks super sexy and helpful, right?
But you may have noticed a very key thing is missing. "Traffic" as the marketers say. Humans as I like to call them. How are human-actual-people going to become aware of Theo's amazing free video on "A day in the life of a digital nomad in Playa del Carmen" to begin with? Head to this post on funnels for more details/ideas on this.
14. Develop your first teaching + sales webinar (combo).
There are two main ways to arrive at a really great topic for your sales webinar---obviously assuming you know exactly what you're selling. Okay, so you have a product or service that (in theory) you can:
outline the steps or sections of; or
come up with a clear end result or goal for (ex: you'll know how to sew your own dress after you take this course, your website will be built when I'm done building it for you, you'll have a healthier mindset on what to eat now that you've gone gluten-free after we're done with my coaching service)
. . . then you have everything you need to come up with your webinar topic. Simply outline your product or service (by breaking it down into steps or topics), whether it's something you do for a client or something you teach your client to do for themselves, then do two things:
Think about what it would be like to deliver/teach the first 10 - 30% of your product (give or take---you can of course go outside of these numbers) as a webinar.
Think about what it would look like to teach/present 10% or more of each section or step of your product or service as a webinar.
One method takes people on a deep dive of the first parts of your product and the other method gives people an overview and actionable information on your whole process. Either way, your audience will have enough information/ideas to get excited and know what they need, so your "job" with the webinar is to present your product or service as the logical way for your audience to get the rest of what they need.
Don't forget that you can get 10 Things You Can Do For Your Business to Grow the Human Way for free, right here.
Which weekend activity will you try for your business? Please let me know in the comments below. Oh, and, quick favor: Please share this post with other business owners or freelancers you know, so that they can add some fun to their weekend or be inspired during lulls in business. Thank you!