7 Epic Time Investments You Can Make in Your Online Business

Let’s discuss time. You probably don’t feel like you have enough of it, what with running an online business and all. Specifically, let’s talk about ways to invest your time that will have epic effects on your online events, your brand as a whole and the way you do business.

Over the years, we’ve invested in seven areas that have paid off big time. We hope you’ll stick with us as we explain the multiple benefits and applications of each area.

Making these time investments can help any online coach or trainer, freelancer, infopreneur, blogger, or solopreneur . . .


1. Making videos. Even though we all hated being in front of the camera when we first started.

As an introvert with unruly hair, I (Regina) thought it wise to stay off-screen for most of my life. But, with the way the Internet evolves and explodes every single day, I thought it unwise to not try multiple forms of media. Periscope is the video of the day! No wait, it’s now Snapchat. Um…it’s Instagram Stories! Whoa…now it’s Instagram TV!

Whatever the platform du jour is, if you learn to create video, you’ll be able to pivot with the platform. If you run Internet businesses like we do, then the #1 rule for us is:

Once you arrive, don’t stay at your destination too long; you have to set a new course.

In other words, get ready to pivot.

Whatever goal you’re setting right now, once you hit it, celebrate, have a Martin Scorsese marathon, play some Scrabble and drop Z’s and X’s and J’s on your opponent, then set a new course. Even if your new course is taking your current project to the next level. Trying to apply IRL (in real life) speed to an online business is like trying to apply tortoise speed to the hare. Wait. Bad example. The tortoise beat the hare . . . but you get what I mean.

Area #1: Make some videos, yo. All the videos.

Benefits:

  • Videos increase the chances of people on the Internet finding you.
  • They take your brand to the next level of helpfulness.
  • They attract people who are prone to get a little lost in too much text.
  • They allow you to communicate certain things (tutorials, deep thoughts, etc.) more effectively than screenshots or words that don’t come with tones or facial expressions.
  • You can get out your thoughts faster when you speak (on video) than you can in text.
  • Videos allow you to express your personality (and personality quirks…) that help create authentic connections between you and your audience. That’s important in an impersonal world, yo.

Try: Facebook Live, Instagram Stories/Instagram Live/Instagram TV, Zoom recordings, G+ Hangouts On Air, YouTube tutorials, screencasts of your computer screen, recorded presentations, or any other type of video that helps you communicate with your ideal audience.

P.S. >> Tools: I use Camtasia or QuickTime for screen recordings, a DSLR and a lavalier mic for recording myself, and I upload most of my content to YouTube + Vimeo. Don’t underestimate the power of inexpensive (and free!) tools available to you. With just a $25 mobile phone tripod and your camera, you can build your audience and provide epic video content for them.


2. Writing a book.

Wait, writing a book is a time investment? Now you’re just talkin’ crazy…Let me tell you about the hardest thing I’ve ever done professionally. And the second hardest thing I’ve ever done professionally. It’s the same darn thing. Writing a book.

One was a physical 200-page manual and the next one was a 200+ page digital book. I just want to be honest with you here. THEY WERE NOT EASY TO CREATE. At all. But, I don’t want that to scare you off from it. Writing that first book is probably the best thing I’ve ever done for my business.

Do tell us why, Regina.

I will, my friend. I will.

Even though I feel my writing has changed + grown so much since my first book (so yeah, it’s a little painful when I read it), I’ve been able to use that book for IRL classes and its organization and information truly make a difference for people who are just getting started in business. I’ve been able to take some of the book’s content and make long format blog posts out of it; I’ve been able to modify some of the book’s sections and make them more specific for certain industries . . . then include them as content in my online classes and products.

Oh, and it’s made a little money over the last year or so.

Area #2: Invest some (serious) time in writing a book.

Benefits:

  • Writing a book will force you to create lots of content. Whether you give it away for free or charge for it, the amount of content you have to work with and form into different things will be worth it. You feel me? I know you feel me.
  • Your book makes you look legit. Straight up. It just looks sooooo legit that you have a book in your niche/genre/area.
  • Your book can help you make income. You can sell it solo, or bundled with other materials, or as a part of your workshop, or packaged with a baby sloth that you ship to my house. Seriously. I want a baby sloth even more than Kristen Bell. Please say I’m not the only one. And yes, I realize it’s probably not 100% legal or whatever. (note: the lawyer on our team just told me to stop suggesting that anyone ships baby sloths as a book bonus.)
  • Writing a book is just such a milestone that I truly believe you will experience a mindset shift after you’ve completed it. You’ll see your business and yourself differently. You’ll be someone who is a Published Author.

3. Learning doc layout + design.

If information is your game (I’m looking right at you coaches, infopreneurs, bloggers, authors, and online bootcamp instructors) or if you’ll be sending your clients documents (freelancers), then learning how to lay out and design attractive documents is vital. I invested time into learning Adobe InDesign at first. I could tell that it was going to take a bit more time to master than I had to spare in the moment, so I instead invested time in learning Apple Pages. Best decision ever.

The Free Create a Course Workbook The #LoveMyBrandKit, for you, for free

Now I’m able to create workbooks, slides, and downloadable PDFs that don’t take forever to prepare and publish or require me to hire a contractor to do for me.

eBooks and digital workbooks

Area #3: Learn how to lay out documents in the program of your choice.

Benefits:

  • You’ll be able to quickly create documents to add value to your content (checklists, media kits, guides, etc.).
  • You’ll be able to dream up digital products you can create and then actually execute them.

Try: Checklists, individual worksheets, adult homework, workbooks, products, eBooks, media kits, and other guides with your word processing or layout software.

 


4. Learning graphic design software.

I have invested many hours into learning Photoshop (as well as Pixlr and Canva), and it is so useful. Even if you just edit templates or designs you have made for you, knowing a bit about graphic design software will help you create the promotional materials you need much sooner than hiring someone every single time.

I honestly believe that graphics are what will initially help you stand out. Whether it be your Facebook cover photo (that you update with each event launch), your blog post images, or flyers + business cards to promote your brand, knowing how to “whip something up” can be crucial in this fast-paced business world.

Area #4: Find graphic design software that has the functions you need and doesn’t seem to have the largest learning curve ever (unless the software is going to be a key part of your day-to-day operations).

Benefits:

  • You won’t have to constantly wait for your designer to complete things if you’re able to do them yourself.
  • You’ll be able to quickly take advantage of any opportunities you see to promote your brand or products with graphics.
  • You’ll be able to add more to your emails, blog posts, social media accounts, and website when you know how to create or modify graphics.

5. Learning to take + edit photos.

Photography makes a huge difference on social media channels (like the vegan chef’s Instagram feed @fitmencook), your blog, in products, and anywhere else you need on-brand images.

Learn photography and editing with your device.

Area #5: Put an emphasis on learning the basics of photography and lighting, whether you use a mobile phone, or a point-and-shoot camera, or a DSLR.

Benefits:

  • You won’t have to always use stock photography to get your point across in your posts and products.
  • You’ll be able to catch more moments as they happen instead of needing to hire a pro just to get great images.
  • Custom photos will help you stand out, especially if you develop a style of your own.

Try: Learning the settings of your device and taking multiple pictures to get the hang of what makes something awesome vs. ordinary vs. poor quality.

P.S. >> Tools: Most of the photos on my Instagram feed are taken with a Canon T5i and a 50mm lens. But, some are taken with my phone. Almost all of them are edited with VSCO Cam or Snapseed.


6. Creating templates for blog posts, visual collateral, and resources.

This has straight saved me from going insane. All the content you create and clients you serve can be a lot to manage, there’s no need to add blog post graphics to your list for every single post.

Now that I’ve created templates (but you can always purchase one created for you if you don’t like design or purchase a pre-made set on Creative Market), I literally have a 3-step process to get a new image going for my newest post: (1) I open up my template, and (2) bring in the new photo I want to use, then (3) change the text.

How I use and modify my blog post templates.

Area #6: Develop templates (or hire someone to develop them for you) for any items you’ll be repeating somewhat frequently–blog posts, Pinterest, resources, etc.

Benefits:

  • All your images on the various social media channels will have the same feel to them and help your brand become more recognizable.
  • You will save a lot of time by using templates as opposed to creating something from scratch each time you want to publish a new resource/article.

Try: Multiple software platforms that are affordable and have support videos or free tutorials for you to refer to.


7. Creating a challenge (or even an email course).

We love challenges!

I’ve said it quite a few times before, but I’m saying it again because I really, truly believe it works. Host some challenges. This is one of the main ways my blog traffic grew when I was first starting out with this brand. I created a challenge years ago that I thought might be fun to do with a few people, but it started sending my site more traffic than any of my other articles. People like to be challenged because they love to reach milestones.

Check out this 30-day challenge by Jen Carrington as an example.

Area #7: Create a challenge your ideal audience would consider extremely important or engaging. Consider surveying some of your audience, family, or friends to see what they think a good challenge might be.

Benefits:

  • Challenges can be great for spreading your brand name.
  • Challenges can drum up excitement about your new online program or can be used as an ice-breaker in the beginning of your challenge.

  • Challenges are awesome for engaging and connecting with other people who have similar goals.
  • Challenges are typically pretty share-worthy.
  • Challenges usually only last a certain amount of time, which creates a sense of urgency for participants.

So, what do you think? What are some epic time investments you have made or want to soon make in your business?

Graphic design and article: Regina Anaejionu

How to Create a Brand Statement in Only 10 Minutes

If there’s one thing you and I know, with our extensive legal training (from watching All Rise and other legal dramas. . . and if you haven’t seen All Rise yet, check it out), 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 mastermind 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 all related to brand statements. Obviously.

So much so that I bothered our legal team (okay…so it’s my brother) for several minutes trying to figure out if what I was saying was at least a smidgen factual.

Brand statements and courtroom strategy? We’d love to hear the connection, Regina.

So happy that you want to hear it, because I was going to tell you anyway.

Say you’re at a networking event, and you get asked: “So, what do you do?” If you answer 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 a clear, 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 teach blogging and business?” with my head down, like it was something to be ashamed of or something that I just made up.

When we become embarrassed by, complacent with, or even unsure of 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 vegan chef.”

Rando McLinkedIn: “Wow. Cool.”

The end. 

Mr. McLinkedIn will barely remember this chef in five minutes, and tomorrow, no chance.

Why didn’t you give more detail? 

“I design droolworthy vegan keto meal plans for bodybuilders who want train hard and eat clean. I also host a monthly weekend intensive online where I actually teach them how to cook – all on video! I’m Luna Reddington, TheVeganSuperChef.com. You might be shocked at how fantastic vegan food can be.”

“I work as a graphic design coach for female business owners who want to learn how to create shareworthy social media graphics by themselves. I run group online workshops and it’s the most fun ever. I’m actually finishing up work on The Viral Media Design Planner, which is a 200-page digital workbook. So excited.”

“I teach recent college grads about creating a personal brand for themselves and building a solid platform that can grow with their career. 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 or Instagram 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. Brand statements are 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 or neglect to do it. It’s that we don’t realize how necessary it is sometimes.

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” and “I kinda sorta teach graphic design” responses.

What I’m about to share is neither rocket science nor Elon Musk-style business genius (which technically would also be rocket science). 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.

And now, it’s time to put on our bossy pants. Here’s how to write a brand statement. Follow these directions, now.

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: After you write it down, cross it out and write it again. Be more specific the second time around.

2. Why do you care?

3. What service/benefit 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 vegan chef as an example.

Who do you serve? Bodybuilders who want effective vegan ketogenic diet plans to cut weight and preserve muscle.

Why do you care? Because when I transitioned to a vegan diet, I lost my muscle mass because I didn’t know how to eat properly. I either ate too much soy or too many carbs. It was hard to add muscle while reducing body fat. I want to help make it easier (and tastier) for others so they don’t feel they have to rely on protein powders and supplements.

What do you actually provide? An intensive online workshop with an option to upgrade to supportive weekly check-ins + meal planning.

What do you offer that’s different? Step-by-step guidance in a small group via DIY materials, a supportive Facebook group and video content to teach meal prep. Having pre-packaged materials helps me keep costs low and the community allows the group to help each other even when I’m not actually in the group.

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

I help bodybuilders and fitness competitors who want to achieve their fitness goals while following a vegan diet, since I had to learn how to eat for muscle mass when I became a vegan. I want others to have a simpler, guided process, so I offer DIY online group coaching, meal planning materials and tailored check-ins to help people through their fitness competitions. [who you help >> why you care >> what’s different + what you provide]

I’m a vegan ketogenic chef. As in, I help people, particularly bodybuilders and fitness competitors, plan delicious keto vegan meals, but I also do it non-traditionally through online workshops and DIY materials to keep costs low. It’s the service I needed but didn’t have when I became a vegan. [what you provide/do >> who you help >> what’s different >> why you care]

I use DIY vegan keto meal planning materials, online group coaching and tailored check-in meetings to co-plan meals and teach food prep to bodybuilders and fitness competitors.  It’s the guidance I wish I’d had when I transitioned to a vegan diet. It was crazypants trying to figure out what to eat to cut body fat while building muscle, and I don’t want anyone else 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.

Do it now. Okay—ending my bossy moment. For all the coders out there: </bossy>

 

Photo: Franz Navarrete

The 5 (Blog Reader) Love Languages

I’m not the only one who started every conversation for five years with the whole “What are your love languages?” bit, right? Okay, good. Just checking. I knew you were as awesome as I am.

But for the two of you in the world who didn’t get obsessed with this craze, Dr. Gary Chapman wrote a book, The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts, that outlines the different ways people receive, show, and interpret love (touch, quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, and gifts). You may be buying your girlfriend all the flowers in the universe, but if gifts don’t mean much to her, she still might not feel loved. With me?

So, over the past few months of reading blog posts, writing, reading your comments, replying, talking with other blog writers and readers via email and social media, etc., I’ve discovered what I believe to be the 5 love languages of blog readers. BUT FIRST:

What makes you feel loved as a blog reader?

Before you check out the five blog reader love languages below, please take two minutes to list three to five things (out loud, right now) that let you know a blogger really cares about you. What makes you feel the author is concerned for you? happy you’re there? ready to serve you?

Studies prove that this post will be 47% more effective if you think of your blog reader love languages before you read the list below because you’ll be stating what naturally comes to you, with no prompting.

Important note: When I say things like “studies prove” or “as history has shown” it means I have completely fabricated everything that follows.

And now, for the 5 love languages of your blog readers:

The Guide to Creating an Epic Info Product: The #3DayCreate Challenge

Hi. I feel like I know you. Angry tweet me if I’m wrong. Consider accepting my challenge if I’m correct. >>>

You’re smart. You’re a learner. People ask you questions about things a lot. You don’t mind answering + explaining because you love to help. You’re even thinking that you might want to create:

  • an eBook
  • a digital workbook
  • an email course
  • a webinar or seminar
  • a live class
  • an online class
  • a printed book
  • etc.

You want to package your information and perhaps sell it from your blog, or from Amazon.com, or you may even want to give it away to people who sign up for your email list.

But, creating a product like this is intense. It takes like a million years, right?

The 3-Day Create: How to Create and eProduct

Not right. I’ve never liked that myth and we (the fabulous people who receive emails from me every week and I) decided to create a challenge, specifically:

The 3-Day Create

Though you can complete it on your own time, we’re taking three days this weekend (since some of us have the Labor Day holiday) to all create different products. Seriously. You can see us already talking about it over here on Twitter.

You’re not getting hung up on this whole “only 3 days?!” thing are you? I told you about the time that I wrote a mystery novel in 3 days, right? No? Remind me to tell you about it one time.

How about now? Now is good for me.

I once wrote a mystery novel in 3 days. And it was possible because I had a plan, an inspiring contest, and hundreds/thousands of people across the world doing it with me.

Was the novel any good Regina?
No.
But you’re missing the point.
And that is:

So, to inspire you, guide you, and motivate you through #3DayCreate, I developed a 57-page PDF workbook. There are checklists, worksheets, lessons, and prompts to guide you through the process of creating an eProduct (any digital product) or physical information product. You don’t need the workbook in order to join us in creating. Feel free to block off time and just go for it with us.

How to Name Your eBook: The 3-Day Create

The 3-Day Create Workbook

How to Create a Style Guide for Your Blog or Brand

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.)