It’s one of “those” posts where I get straight to the point . . .
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.
Boomerang for Gmail is your new thing . . . I promise. With just the basic, free account, you can schedule emails to send later (so your client who lives in another country won’t get emails at 11:30 p.m. their time >> or so your clients/collaborators who live in the same country will get your email the next morning at 8:30 a.m. instead of at 3 a.m. when you finished writing it), and you can also return an email to your inbox at a later time. It’s like having a personal assistant remind you that you still haven’t replied to SoAndSo or done SuchAndSuch thing. Brilliant Boomerang, brilliant.
3. Create a resources page for your audience, but only if you really mean it.
People like you. People like your website, blog, or products. People see you as an expert in whatever you’re talking about or doing. People will have questions for you. Sometimes it’s simplest to answer those questions (What do you use for ___? How do you do ___?) with a single resource page on your website.
But only if you really mean it. If you’re developing it to help people, as Pat Flynn did (screenshot below), then go for it. If you’re developing it solely to dump affiliate links of stuff you’ve never tried right along with stuff you love, then do me a favor, just don’t. Your readers and the Internets thank you for being genuine.
4. Get someone to review your site, for free.
5. Clean up your portfolio.
“I love that logo you made 10 years ago with Clip Art,” said no true friend of yours, ever. Include your best stuff, not all your stuff. Get an honest friend, client, or colleague (or all three) to be for realsies with you. My best friend in life (BMays.com) is a talented designer, but even she asked me to be real with her if there was anything she needed to take out of her portfolio. Everything she does is pretty awesome to me, but it was about deciding what represents her capabilities best. Her current portfolio is about 1/30th of her entire body of work.
6. Create a challenge.
My best buddy (referenced above) and I like to call them “happy accidents.” 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 a handful of people will care about and it turns out to be one of the things that grows your blog the most in a certain year. Creating my 30-day Creative Business Cleanse was my happy accident of 2014. My Internet friend, Amy Maricle, created the most adorably awesome Holiday Self-Care Challenge last year that really drove some awareness for her art therapy and counseling brand. Whatever you create just has to make sense for you, your people, your goals, and their goals.
Speaking of creating challenges: Is anyone interested in a challenge on creating challenges? With tips and resources on making a successful challenge? Because if you are, I’ll be making that soon. Just tweet me or leave a comment on this post if you’re reading this and are interested. P.S. I love you.
7. Reassess the categories on your site.
So. Don’t judge me. I may or may not have had 43 categories on my site that I just collected over time from not being purposeful about my categories. Whatever. You’ll be happy to know I actually took myself through The Stellar Content Plan Workbook and narrowed it down a bit. I recommend only a handful or two of categories to keep your content looking focused.
8. Plan your first webinar.
Mannnnnn, I get nervous each time I do these things. But honestly, and I’m not just saying this to convince you to start doing them, it gets easier every single time. I was still nervous in my most recent one (previewed below) about using Apple Pages to create digital and printable documents, but it was way better than the first one, which is the webinar we shall not speak of. I mean, technically it’s live on my YouTube channel, but whatever. And P.S. I use free Google+ Hangouts On Air to conduct my webinars, just in case you wanted to know.
9. Create some standard reply emails.
All those questions that you seem to get over and over again–create an amazing reply once (complete with resources and your award-winning humor) and then send it out each time you get a specific question. Do the same with client emails or anything else you send out regularly. And if you’re a Gmail or Google Apps user, get the free Lab (app) called Canned Responses that lets you store and insert specific responses in one click. And please, don’t ask me to explain my naming system for my Canned Responses (below). It all makes sense in my head.
10. Dream up a collaboration and propose it.
11. Do an SEO audit of your pages and blog posts.
Try this non-techie overview of SEO, but stay tuned for the second installment of #SearchEngineSaturday as well.
12. Start a questions doc.
Compile all the questions you get via email, social media, real life, post comments, and even inside your brilliant head into one document. This will give you the most epic list of things that your people want to know. These can be formed into standard reply emails (#9 above), products, blog posts, services, collaborations, and more.
13. Audit your services and products.
Are they all listed? Are they all valuable? Organized? Reflective of your true abilities and interests? Are there any that you kinda (in your heart) hate to deliver? Get rid of anything that makes you nauseous.
14. Create a blog post graphic template.
Or multiple templates, if you want to vary the look of each blog post graphic based on the category. My new blog image obsession? This guy’s blog >> Bryan Robert Thompson. Creating consistent, bold, attractive images will definitely help your brand stand out (on social media and more).
15. Open up office hours.
Whether you offer Q+As on Facebook, Google+, or via Twitter chats, consider providing some free office hours to start to connect with potential clients on a meaningful level. I hosted office hours on Facebook and my blog for a few months when I was starting out. P.S. You can do as I did so that you won’t seem like a loner at first >> ask your true friends with real interest in your topics to populate your events and ask some questions.
16. Send some handwritten notecards to clients.
Whenever you ship physical items, you have an amazing opportunity to handwrite some notecards, but you can also send them just because. Consider using Postable to collect addresses from your favorite clients during the holidays, or before their birthdays, or just because. You can export your list or you can send some semi-handwritten notecards directly from the Postable system.
17. Put a real accounting system in place.
I use Wave for free. And their cool app that lets me snap pics of my receipts on the go. But whatever you use, get in the habit of entering your income and expenses each week. You and/or your accountant will hate tax time a lot less with some organization. And an organized and less-stressed you can do better work.
18. Make an email plan.
I recommend planning out your email content in themes, just as you do your blog content. I also recommend that I take my own advice on this one.
19. Identify 10 client/reader haunts, and start going there.
Where are your people at online? Where are your people at IRL (in real life)? Figure out 10 places you would go if you were them, then start going there. Be present, be real, be helpful, be memorable. Your 10 places will probably eventually narrow themselves down (or weed themselves out) until you’re left with just a few that are truly effective, but that’s okay. Think of clubs, communities, classes, organizations, websites, other blogs, Facebook Groups, etc. where your people would be.
My free course called Launch Your Online Business Already can REALLY help you with this.
20. Spend a day Buffering out blog posts, products, and resources from other people that your audience might find interesting. Tag (@) the author/creator in each tweet or G+/Facebook post.
To be a stand up, stand out brand, it’s important that you share other people and mention them frequently. Spend a couple hours one day filling your social media queue with future tweets, Facebook posts, Google+ posts, and LinkedIn updates that share other people’s resources, products, and thoughts (just make sure you actually admire/recommend the content). The person whose stuff you shared will love you. Your audience will appreciate you.
Thoughts? Other suggestions?
Main blog photo: Kristen Curette