My friend. The world of online business is not so very different from being a spy. So today, I have some spy lessons for you. These come from my extensive experience in spycraft—watching shows and movies such as Alias, Mission Impossible, James Bond, The Blacklist, etc. And what have I learned in all my years of experience?
Spy Lesson #1: Establish a solid headquarters.
Spy Lesson #2: Create and maintain some secure outposts.
Spy Lesson #3: Always have more than one safe house.
And as you can clearly see, this is just like having an online business.
You need an online headquarters for your content.
A place where you can do your coolest, most meaningful stuff.
Then you need some secure outposts.
These are your non-headquarters locations to do cool stuff from.
And then you need some safe houses.
A safe house = surprise coolness that no one but you knows about until you need it.
Today I want to help you figure out where you should set up your headquarters (because it’s not always necessarily a blog), and in an upcoming post, I want to help you discover which outposts might be a good fit, and what the heck you should be keeping at your safe houses.
Intense right? Well you can thank the relaunch of EpicBlogBrew.com for all this intensity. I’ve been in content creation mode for a while now, and I just had to share this spy analogy and create some worksheets to help. Let’s do it.
Spy/Business Lesson #1: Establish a solid headquarters.
In spycraft, headquarters is the place everyone goes to figure out what’s going on, to get new assignments, to converse with coworkers, and to center themselves. In online business, your headquarters is the place your audience can figure out what’s going on, get new content + products, and possibly even converse with or meet others.
From your headquarters comes your best work, your true brand identity, and paths to your products (whether physical, digital, or service-based).
So which platforms make for great headquarters?
From what I’ve seen and done, I’d suggest that the following are epic platforms to consider:
- A blog
- Your email list
- YouTube (or other video services)
- A podcast
- Periscope (or other live streaming services)
- Online workshops (webinars, bootcamps, live trainings, etc.)
Since I haven’t podcasted extensively enough (though I’ve loved the experience of the episodes I’ve done), I can’t authentically develop a checklist to help you decide if it’s right for you. But the other platforms listed above definitely feel more like home to me, and I want to explore them further with you.
To me, the important thing is not to let someone tell you exactly which platforms you need to be on without fully researching it yourself.
Oh, and another important thing to acknowledge is that your headquarters may eventually change.
For the first 1.5 years of this brand, the byRegina.com blog was the indisputable headquarters. Then, a shift happened. I didn’t do it on purpose, and honestly didn’t even notice it until it had fully occurred and existed for a few months.
My email list became my headquarters. I develop so much never-before-seen content, so many worksheets, so many #TooReal stories for my emails. It’s honestly the content that I pour the most time into other than my courses. And. P.S. You can sign up for my Ninja Notes at the top of my website.
Even though I don’t plan to fight the fact that my email list has become my headquarters, I do plan to re-energize my blog, because the fact that it was HQ for so long is the only reason I have my email list.
But, enough of story time. It’s time to analyze which of the many headquarters options you want to use in general, and in using them consistently, you’ll be able to figure out what the best HQ for your brand is.
Is blogging right for you?
You can download the worksheet above or check out the checklist items below. Blogging may be right for you if:
Soooo, let’s take a deep dive into how to create an email course (correction: an epic email course) that you can use as an opt-in for your email list to grow it wildly and to impress your savvy audience.
And yo, the first thing to note, is that there’s a 3-day online bootcamp this weekend (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday) that is free for you, complete with live video, worksheets, guest appearances by Kory Woodard, and more . . . all focused on helping you create an epic email course (planning, content, design, promotion, etc.). I’ll tell you more about it at the end of this post, but you can also hop over to EmailCourseBootcamp.com and RSVP for it. It will only be available over the weened and for a short replay time after that.
Okay, let’s get started with the 18 steps of creating an epic email course that people go insane for.
Really, Regina? 18 steps. Are they truly necessary?
Yes, my email ninja friend, they are. We don’t make weak email courses around here. Stick with me, and I think you’ll have several solid ideas and clear steps to make them happen.
1. Pick a topic.
There are so many legitimate ways to generate great ideas for what you want to communicate through an information product. I shared 15 of my top ways in this free Infopreneur Workshop (and 15-page workbook) recently—they came from the 25 ways I go over in Infopreneur Ninja.
Let’s get into seven of the most actionable idea-generating categories.
1. Teach the beginning.
As a freelancer who works on individual projects with clients, you probably have a lot of pre-work, or work you do towards the beginning of your project that can be translated into an information product of some sort—and in this case, perhaps an email course.
For example: When I was freelancing (creating WordPress websites for people), I quickly learned that people needed way more definition and information about their brand and purpose before they started on a website project. In order to save their time, their money, and my time + sanity, people needed so much more clarity at the beginning of a project.
Legit. So, I created a questionnaire, then a workbook, then a little brand discovery process that all my clients went through before really getting started on their project. That workbook was the first digital file I sold (clients got it for free though). It still sells right here. Anyone not willing to go through that process was someone I had to direct elsewhere.
What is it that you need your clients to know, do, discover, create, or understand before they start working with you? What would make your job simpler? Why not create the process as a free email course? You can hit us with videos, worksheets, whatever you want to in an email course. #Epic #MindBlown
Your clients will feel indebted to you since you will be the one who brought such [fun, clarity, organization, direction, etc.] to their very important project.
2. Teach the end.
Can you guess where we’re going here? Create an email course (or perhaps another type of product) that teaches:
- how to maintain the products you create (ex: best ways to maintain your WordPress website)
- how to grow what you make (ex: now that you have a website, how do you get traffic to it?)
- how to get the full benefit out of what you create (ex: now that you have a brand identity, where can you use it? how do you integrate it into your existing platforms? etc.)
3. Show them how to do what you do.
So, if you’re considering creating an email course, chances are you’ve done something epic that you can teach others about, such as:
- starting a business
- getting your first few clients
- letting go of fear and publishing your art portfolio online for the world to see
What have you done in your freelance business that other people ask you about? How about a simple email course or challenge to help them out with it?
Wait. Are the ideas flowing? If so, you may want these completely free worksheets to accompany this blog post as you work through it. You don’t have to sign up for my email list or anything. Just click and download.
4. Structure the madness.
So here’s the reality: the steps required to accomplish ________ (whatever you coach on) are simply not that apparent and are truly overwhelming for some of us. Here’s the other deal: you don’t have enough time to coach tons of people through similar processes individually. There’s a cap on how many clients you can take on.
BUT. There’s not a cap on how many people can benefit from your email course (or other product) that structures the madness for them and takes them through some of the same processes that you would take them through one-on-one.
Bring order and clarity to the process that your potential clients and audience members really want/need to go through. #TheyWillLoveYouForIt
5. One-step wonder.
Yep. Kinda like a one-hit wonder. Except, nothing like it at all. A one-step wonder is an information product (such as an email course or tutorial series) that helps your audience with one simple step. It appeals to your audience because that one simple step is something they’ve been wanting to learn or get past.
Examples: “Learn how to set up your website’s email list sign up form.” “How to set up your new Mac laptop.” “How to configure XYZ plugin in WordPress.”
What’s one step that people want to take that you’re willing to teach for free? What’s a step that could be part of a larger series? What’s a step that could be part of a paid course?
6. Key results.
Have you achieved some key results that you can teach the methods behind? For example, I noted the specific actions I took when I was growing to my first 100 email list subscribers, then my first 1,000, then my first 10,000 friends and beyond. Teaching those methods, though the results will vary, is exactly what I do in my Audience-Building Ninja course. And though I haven’t taken it, I’m sure that teaching actual methods is what my buddy Kory does in her email course too.
Can you think of any key results you can boil down to an email course?
7. Current content.
Sure would be nice if there was a whole blog post on expanding a blog post/series into a book that could also be used to help us expand it into a free email course that we offer as opt-ins to our email lists. Yes?
By no means am I all “death to the business plan!” or anything dramatic like that; I just realize that many of us feel overwhelmed by blog business plans and freelance business plans. Sometimes, we just want an action plan that tells us what to do and when to do it in the simplest format possible.
I get that. I love business plans, but I also love action and simplicity. So today, as a part of my blog series on going independent and transitioning to working for yourself full time, I’m bringing you action and simplicity. We’re going to make your Creative Action Plan by asking 10 simple questions and discussing lots of fun options/answers you can go with. Can I get a “Wooo hooo, planning is the best, and I really love Regina today for making me plan” . . . ? Huh? Can I get that one more time with a little more feeling? Thank you. Oh, and if you want to check out the first post in the series, that covers freeing up more time + money for your creative business, then yo, I support that idea.
What is a Creative Action Plan again?
I’m glad you asked. A Creative Action Plan (CAP) is a document that you add to and access regularly that contains action items in 10 key areas of your business so that you always have steps you can take to move forward.
Have you ever been sitting around and found yourself wondering what you should be doing to grow your business, or how to get more of your audience to buy from you, or how to streamline your processes? I think that most of us can come up with awesome ideas in these areas, we just need a little nudge, inspiration, and jostling of the creativity.
So, let’s get started. And yes, I have some worksheets for you. I’ve made this into a multi-sheet series if you choose to download it and follow along. You don’t have to hand over your email address or pay for it. And no, I know what you’re thinking to yourself right now, but please allow to me correct that thought . . . you don’t have to name your second-born child after me to get the download for free. Though if you choose to do the right thing, I want you to know that I’m open to her middle name being Regina; it doesn’t have to be her first name. I’m cool like that. You’re welcome.
Also, to be honest, I do recommend eventually making your CAP into a digital document (maybe Google Docs?) that you can access and change at any time. I know some of us creative types like pen and paper, or like to brainstorm first, so please feel free to use the worksheets below with the questions and ideas below below.
If you’re like any Internet human ever, you’ve probably wondered about what to send to your email list. So, as a part of Episode 3 of The Independent Podcast (which is currently in a series on how to start a profitable business for $50), we’re exploring what you can send to your email list, how and why to “up your email game” and create wow, the types of things you can send out as free email gifts, encouraging email list signups, building a coming soon page, and more.
P.S. The episode comes with worksheets (naturally).
P.P.S. My two favorite blogging courses, Zero to Blog and Blog to Profit, are open again at a special price for a limited time! Join us?
. . . and if you missed Episode 1 + 2, you can check them out below or on this nifty podcast page that includes all the worksheets as well.
Photo (c): Aila Images of Stocksy.com
As you know, this weekend we celebrate Business Valentine’s Day (#BizVDay), and therefore, I have some cool treats for you and your business.
Okay. Okay. You make a fair point. How could you have known about #BizVDay, considering I just made it up?
But you can at least see where this is going right? A week’s worth of posts on how to treat and love your business, a couple of free eBooks, a free desktop wallpaper, and a list of ideas for you to celebrate the first annual Business Valentine’s Day on Saturday, February 28th . . . you picked up on all that right?
Listen, I don’t know if you’re having a slow day or if I’m just not explaining myself well . . .
But it’s probably not me . . .
Anyhow, I’ll try to make it more clear: February 28th is Business Valentine’s Day. I chose a day/date still in the month of love, so it’d be easy for us to remember, but I wanted to make it far enough away from that other impostor Valentine’s Day (on February 14th–have you heard of it?) that it would give people’s bank accounts a little bit of recuperation time.
To celebrate #BizVDay, I’ll be releasing multiple posts this week, starting with today’s (20 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out), and then throughout the whole week >> ranging from blogger collaborations to protecting your business and getting search engines to love you. I’ll also be releasing two (wait what?) . . . two free eBooks this week for anyone on le good ol’ email friends list. There will be other various goodies shared through social media and other sources as well. On actual Business Valentine’s Day, I hope you’ll be celebrating as I will, by doing things that show love to our businesses (maintenance, cleaning/auditing things, planning, developing products, being epic, etc.). Don’t worry, I’ll share more as the week unfolds, but for now, just tweet me that you’re in.
Oh, and feel free to release some cool, free stuff for your blog readers and friends for #BizVDay too. I’d love to see what you come up with, so please Tweet me.
20 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out
(and Attract the Right People to You)
1. Create a pretty archive page on your website, or create a “start here” page to direct first-time visitors to your best stuff.
As we get blogging, it’s sometimes easy to forget that new people are probably finding us every day, and that these new people are entering our sites from all sorts of links/pages/posts. Someone may come through a link to a specific post through Pinterest, someone else may have found your bio page through a Google search, and yet another person may have been sent a link to your services page by a friend . . . you never know.
So, having a beautiful archive page (that shows all your posts) or creating a custom “First time here?” or “Start Here” page can be the most welcoming, brilliant thing ever. You’re able to direct people to your best content (or your most recent content) in a super attractive way. I love how Lindsay and Bjork over at Pinch of Yum have fashioned their archives page.
2. Boomerang everythang.
It was important to use an “a” there, so it could rhyme. Don’t hate on that. That’s genius level stuff that no one has ever done before.
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