7 Simple Ways to Help Your Online Business Not Fail

how to succeed at online business

While I’m hard at work finishing an eKit that I think you will love (this one’s for the bloggers, yo), I thought I’d revisit a past, favorite topic of mine . . . not failing at online business. Because. Let’s be honest. It can be overwhelming and intense. So I have some quick tips for you today to get you thinking:

We all know to choose a business we love and are willing to consistently learn more about. Interest in a topic and passion for people keeps our motivation high. Therefore, we need a serious love of our online product or blog categories, a desire to make our clients’ lives better, plus resolve and hard work to get through slumps in business or creativity. Check.

You’ve got passion already, else you wouldn’t care to read this post. So, here are seven things you can do now, like two seconds ago now, to help your online business or blog not fail or become sucktacular (Get it? sucky in a spectacular way = sucktacular. Brilliant. I know. And yes, I will keep sticking “tacular” on the ends of words then explaining myself. Don’t be craptacular about it, okay?)


1. Start sooner.

I love you and all dear blogger (slash) small business owner, but you are too much of a perfectionist if you don’t start sooner. There are key elements you need in your blog design and layout: newsletter signup, easy-to-understand navigation, some professional graphics, and some compelling copy. However, if you spend an extra 1.5 to 6 months stressing about the color changes you want made, the slight font change you want on the About page, and the ½ inch skooch up you want the image on the Services page to get, you are missing the point and missing the opportunity to connect with an audience who doesn’t care about (or notice) those things in the first place.
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How to Create a Style Guide for Your Blog or Brand

How To Create a Blog Style Guide or Brand Style Guide

In order to create and maintain a cohesive online and in-person presence that engages readers and clients, you may want to consider a style guide for your blog or brand. A style guide is a document (PDF/binder/digital file) you create to keep you consistent on important blog elements such as fonts, colors, and image styles, as well as brand elements such as tone, document styles, and more. To create a blog style guide or brand guide you will collect, organize, and create images and text that inspire you, and then you will compile your preferences into a document.

“But why, Regina? Why must I do more work?” you cry out in anguish.

A style guide will save you time (because you won’t have to wonder what your next Instagram image should look like or how you should design that invoice/flyer you need) and it will create a recognizable presence for you online (people make my day when they say they see images on Pinterest and automatically know it’s from my blog–it’s like a non-germy virtual kiss I tell ya).

I’m currently making a new style guide, so I wanted to share the process and benefits with you.

I can’t wait to show you all the new brand. Some of the most fun I’ve had is defining the consistent styles you’ll start to see. I think you’ll enjoy creating a thorough style guide as well (so I created this new post + template out of a previous post from my site). When you look at your style guide, you will immediately have a clear picture of how you should do something or how to create certain brand elements. Can you please just imagine that for one moment? Confusion = gone.

So. You know what’s next. WORK. Download the 3-page blog style guide template below, and follow the guidelines on the template and in the post below. (Note: I made the template a Google Doc that you can copy and it paste into your word processor of choice.)
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How to Launch a Blog on a Budget

how do you launch a blog on a budget

You can join the club. The club I started for the ba-gillion people I know, moi included, who don’t have 1.2 mil laying around to invest in a blog launch or relaunch. Yes, ba-gillion is a big, actual number; I’m offended you thought otherwise.

If you don’t want in on my club, that’s fine . . . weirdo, but if you do, then as a benefit of your club membership, please enjoy this guide on how to launch (and start to grow) a blog on a budget. There are 10 main sections to read through, each with resources (free, inexpensive, mid-range, and high-end –> if you want to ball out in certain areas) and tools you can start using today.

If I may say, before we get into the blog launch guide: Launching a successful blog, whether on a slim budget or super duper budget, takes a lot of work. When launching on a budget, you’re going to have to get a smidge more crafty, research-y, and DIY-y than the next person, but the process of learning and doing will be valuable. Every popular + useful blog takes a huge investment, whether it’s almost all time, almost all money, or a healthy mix of both.

Also, this guide is more like a class on how to start your blog (with a small budget) than it is a blog post. I just want to warn you that this is probably best for people who are really serious about starting/re-starting a blog, because it’s intense. Feel free to pin it or share it with someone you know may benefit from it. Thanks.


Feel free to jump ahead to any of the sections below, if you’re feeling froggy that is. {Get it? Because frogs jump. –That’s a completely original joke I just made up. I’ve never heard it anywhere else before. Have you?}

1. Planning // 2. CMS or Platform // 3. Brand Identity // 4. Domain + Hosting // 5. Blog or Theme Design // 6. Images // 7. Style Guide // 8. Making Money While Your Blog is Still New // 9. Plugins + Extras // 10. Promotion
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30 Ways to Find Your First Clients

Ways to Get Your First Customers
Okay, let’s be serious for a moment, 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 my friend. 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.

You might be thinking that the title of this post says “30 ways” but that 15 + 20 = 35. That may be correct; I don’t know. All your fancy, grownup counting and formulas are just too difficult for me. So, here you have it, 30 to 35 ways to get your first clients:


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 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. 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

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.
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How to Plan a Killer Business Launch Event (in 6 steps)

How to Plan a Business Launch Event

Amy Minor, Event PlannerJust as I was going all Crazy-Pants Murphy while planning one of my first, fun business events, I ran into this gal (< ---) Amy Minor via the Interwebs. She has tons of personality and experience as an event planner + is ever-so-wonderful to grace us with some expertise on planning a business launch event today. She also allowed for my obsessive self to chime in with some spreadsheets for y'all throughout the post. I love her for so many reasons . . .


[from Amy] Hey y’all! Thanks for tuning in. With four years experience pursuing the event and wedding industry, and as an aspiring business owner myself, it is my absolute pleasure to introduce a short planning guide that I believe can help you from start to finish developing your (highly successful) business launch event! Thank you Regina for the opportunity.

Some background: I have combined a simplified and universal event planning outline, the organization and vision of which is C/O of Christee Albino, Project Manager of The Recording Academy® Texas Chapter, with my own tidbits (including those that I have learned the hard way)! Please walk yourself through these steps and do your business a favor–throw it a party! Thank you to Christee.


So, to make it a simple and non-overwhelming process, as you begin to plan your event, I’ll break each of the sections directly below into questions you can answer (along with quick tips) to get you thinking. Ready?

Steps to Planning a Business Launch Event
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The 30-day Creative Business Cleanse

How to do a business cleanse
I know the title of this post is pretty vague and you’re out of guesses as to what it’s about. I’m nothing if not mysterious, but I’ll go ahead and clarify . . . this is a 30-day creative business cleanse in which you (cue suspenseful music: “dun dun dunnnnnn”) cleanse your creative business for 30 days.

You heard right friends; we are going to complete some decluttering and liberating tasks to cleanse your freelance business, coaching business, or blog. I’m doing these with you, starting June 1, but please feel free to do them any time. Shoooot, even create a Google+ community and do it with others if you want.

Who is this for?
Umm you. If you feel at all overwhelmed, disorganized, digitally cramped, or if you’ve simply never done a business cleanse, then it’s time for your semi-yearly #CreativeCleanse.


And . . . I got tools on tools on tools for you:
//1. Wallpaper for your computer, so you hopefully won’t forget to cleanse each day. //2. Printable (PDF) checklist. //3. An email reminder/support group. Once every three days (from the day after you sign up or starting June 1 if you sign up before then), I’ll email you your next steps, some encouragement, and outdated pop culture references. That’s 10 emails in 30 days; we’ll know each other well my friends. And you can always respond with questions/rants.

Creative Cleanse Wallpaper Creative Cleanse Checklist Creative Business Cleanse Email list


Day 1: Assess your sitch + make goals.

If a client order comes through right now, do you have a set system in place to process their project? How structured are the files on your computer? Do you have albums/galleries/folders for different types of images and notes in your phone? Do you have a way to categorize your emails? Set some goals for the next 30 days based on this 30-day list and what you know you want to accomplish. Then, add things to your calendar and find a partner. After just five days of working on separate goals with an accountability partner, I feel like my life is on track–seriously, try it.

Note: You may be wondering why someone as old as I am ever watched Kim Possible, and thus began abbreviating “situation” as “sitch” . . . I have no excuse for that. I’m obsessed with spy shows and it caught my attention one day. Please, please still think I’m cool.
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How to Use Your Voice on Your Blog

How to Use (not find) Your Voice on Your Blog

It’s Virtual Happy Hour (#VirtualHH) time y’all.

Virtual Happy Hour with Maru and Regina-May. . . and today I want to talk about how to use your voice on your blog. How to come across as you. How to be loved and adored by the people who are meant to love and adore you.

So, there’s a worksheet/exercise, a video (in which I briefly sing + dance), and of course, a mango margarita recipe (or whatever you’re drinking) so that you can enjoy a virtual happy hour. I’ll be on Twitter answering questions or receiving ridicule for this video, either one, from 3 – 9 p.m. CST today (Thursday, May 22), but feel free to watch & do the exercise at any time on any day.

Oh, and this post is part of a project that Maru and I started to join bloggers together once a month to make videos that explore their take on a general topic (this month was blogging basics). At the bottom of this post is where I’ll try to keep a list of other participating bloggers for the month. Read more about our #VirtualHH “movement” here.



. . . and some of you were wondering where my British accent is . . . I promise to use it next time. Don’t forget to download the worksheet/exercise (two pages), and feel free to check out some notes (below) from the video.

Use Your Voice Worksheet and ExerciseIn this video I discuss three tips + action items for using your voice on your blog:

1. Recognize the importance of your voice.
2. Practice using your voice (through text) more often.
3. Say it again, Sam. << It'll make sense when you watch the video, or perhaps if you're obsessed with classic movies like I am.

I'll give you a few tips on how to do each of those, but the exercise (PDF) is a great resource too. In this video, I also draw comparisons between the four types of bloggers and four types of “concert goers,” which is of course accompanied by some of my epic dance moves.


Other bloggers participating in #VirtualHH this month:

Did I miss your name? Let me know in the comments.


Photos of me: taken from my video, shot by James Smith
Photo of mango margarita: © el.rudakova – Fotolia.com