How to Write a Creative Action Plan You’ll Actually Follow

Let's make a creative action plan you'll actually follow

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.

Creative Action Plan Worksheets: Develop a strong "business plan" that you can actually follow

Section 1: What can I do to build more of an audience?

A // On your worksheets, brainstorm and write down all your ideas for increasing your audience size (blog traffic, email subscribers, social media followers, etc.). Try to write and think for 10 minutes straight, without stopping, and without using the tips below first.

B // Next, do some research. Look up all the business owners and brands in your industry and see what methods they use to grow their audiences. What initially caught your attention about the brand? How did you hear about them? If you find that a particular brand you love is doing Instagram really well (or YouTube, or their blog, or emails) try to go back to the beginning of their account to see how they built from zero. Pull out concepts, ideas for quality, and inspiration from these brands. Copying their playbook and look = no bueno. It doesn’t do either one of you any good. Now add your notes to your worksheet. Psst–print multiple copies of the same page if you need more space.

C // Now, the fun part. Find your off-niche inspiration. Pick an industry that you have a lot of interest in, that is not your industry and not a close sister/brother of your industry. For example, my off-niche inspiration is food blogs (with interior design coming in at a close second–I mean–hello Decor Fix by my buddy Heather Freeman). One thing that I pulled from food blogs early on is that they didn’t mind taking up all the space with long, vertical images. Not just on Pinterest, but on their actual blog too. At the time, nobody in the biz blog realm (that I followed) was doing that. At first I thought that meant it was a bad idea, but then I was like, “WHY? Why is it bad?” I started doing it, and I love it. Hence, every blog post that I’ve ever written in my library. Okay, granted, I opted for squares on my library page, but you get the point.

D // Check out your favorite sources for learning (on the topic of audience growth). It’s always good to have a few learnin’ blogs, and books, and classes waiting for you. “What are some articles I recommend on the topic?” you say. Please allow me to share:

5 Ways Creatives Can Share Their Work Online Without Feeling Self-Promotional by Jen Carrington

30 Ways to Find Your First Clients

16 Strategies for Growing Your Email List by Mariah Coz

This One Site is My Largest Blog Referral by Lauren Hooker

The 3 Best Tips for Growing Your Blog Traffic by Erika Madden

Creative Action Plan Worksheets: Develop a strong "business plan" that you can actually follow

Section 2: What can I do to build deeper and better connections with my audience?

A // Take out your worksheets and flip to the second page, but, before you start writing, think of the best customer service experience you can remember and the worst. Also, think of the physical store or digital online presence that creates the best experience for you. Mine would be either my fancy schmancy movie theater (that I rambled on and on about in this post on how to create an experience), a local bookstore, or the pedicure place I go to (once every five years) that serves margaritas.

When you’re done thinking about what creates a great experience for you, as well as what creates a bad one, write down all your ideas for customer service, increasing the quality of first interactions, and consistently wowing people when you connect with them. Think through all the following platforms that you leave an impression and build community in:

  • blog comments
  • Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and all your social media accounts
  • email list emails
  • one-on-one emails
  • online communities you’re a part of
  • Q+As, office hours, or FAQs
  • anywhere else online or in real life that you talk to members of your audience or people who might follow you or buy from you

For each of the categories above, think: How long are your responses? Do you use people’s names? Do you check out other people’s sites before you comment or reply? How long does it take you to respond?

B // Time to do your research. Just as with Question 1, look at others in your industry who do this whole “connecting + interacting” thing well. Look at people who don’t do the best job at it. Record notes on your worksheet about what you do and don’t want to carry over into your brand in your own way. Be authentic yo, everything else simply takes too much energy.

C // Look to your out-of-niche inspirations and see what they’re doing. Told you ’bout my friend Heather, right? I love how she gets to people’s comments even though she’s a busy mum with a business to run. I definitely love how she answers questions and is genuinely helpful. And I definitely don’t expect her to keep up the same pattern on her posts that have hundreds of comments–it’s about consistency and doing what you can to make people feel cared for. Oftentimes I go connect with people on Twitter after they’ve commented, instead of the blog.

Don’t forget to record your notes and observations from other industries on your worksheet.

D // And now, let’s do the “continuing ed” part of this section. Head to your favorite business sources that give tips on how to up your customer service, delight on social media, and be awesome at life. Below are a few sources I recommend, and here is the first book I can remember that changed the way I thought about social media: Likeable Social Media, Revised and Expanded (psst: it’s an Amazon link and I’ll make 1.5 million dollars if you click and buy from it–muwahhh hah hah–okay, more like $.63, but whatever, wanted to practice my evil laugh). But hey, I included a picture for you below as photographic proof that I own this book–it’s the bottom one in the pic. Again, you’re welcome.

30+ Top Tips for Making Your Customers Love Your Biz by Erika Madden

29 Ways to Give Back to Your Blog Community by Kayla Hollatz

How to Get Serious About Social Media

I really do read books sometimes.

Section 3: What can I do to streamline my processes?

A // Okay, I’m gonna be honest with you here (as if you don’t know this) >> there are a lot of “processes” in business. And instead of getting overwhelmed by trying to streamline all of your processes at once, I’m going to encourage you to focus on one or two at a time. Then, as a part of Section 10 of your Creative Action Plan (when you’re identifying the things you can do when you “just don’t know what to do” with your business), 1 of those things can be figuring out how to streamline another one of your processes.

Let’s look at the different types of processes you can streamline (through actions, tools, automation, organization, and/or hiring someone), then let’s discuss the process for actually streamlining one. As you look at the items below, identify the ones that annoy you, that seem to take an unreasonable amount of time, or that you feel could run in a much smoother way than they do now.

accounting email responses client intake email list management
social media posting social media image creation blog posting blog post image creation
photography (or obtaining photos) document creation product packaging creation product or service promotion
video editing + exporting podcast editing + exporting taxes + paying bills affiliate account management
customer service + requests analytics + brand auditing finding clients client project management
product development to-do list management shipping of products delivery of digital goods
data entry scheduling of appointments or calls course or community management payment processing
blog post + resource editing client feedback + referrals client contracts subcontractor payments + agreements

Pick one of the processes above to start with and to have in mind as an example for the rest of these mini-steps that will help you fill out your worksheet.

Get out some moveable pieces of paper (index cards, sticky notes, etc.) or your favorite app or word processor, then record the steps you take for the process you’ve chosen. Let’s say you’re working on scheduling client appointments right now. You might come up with a list (or cards that you rearrange in order) such as:

  1. Client submits a form or question on my site.
  2. I respond to the client via email to ask them a few more questions to see if they’re a good fit.
  3. I read the client’s response to my email. If the client is a good fit, I send them an email with the days that I’m open for a call.
  4. The client responds about which time is best for them.
  5. I confirm our meeting time and then ask the client to send me a Skype contact request.
  6. I store the meeting time in my phone so that I won’t forget (then I prepare an agenda for the meeting).
  7. I accept the client’s Skype request.
  8. I send a reminder email the day before or the day of the call. This helps confirm time zone and other details.
  9. I call the client on the correct day at the correct time.

Hey, and don’t laugh. This is how I used to schedule client calls, all the time. I didn’t even realize how much time I was wasting until I discovered Calendly. But honestly, it’s in needing to transcribe your process that you often see how many steps are really involved. One piece of software and one Calendly link (that you can send out or have available on your site) replaces at least seven of the nine steps above. Can someone say “#Winning” right now?

On your worksheet for Question/Section 3 of your Creative Action Plan, write down ideas for how to streamline your one or two processes that you’re addressing right now.

Do you need to find a new app, digital tool, or type of software?
Do you need to simply find more efficient actions/steps?
Do you need to hire someone for part of it?
Can you automate the process somehow?
Will a physical tool help?
Can some of the steps be consolidated or eliminated?
Do you need to organize the process or components into a different order?
Can you actually transfer some of the work to your client or customer (if applicable)?

Note: Make sure you are not automating/outsourcing/modifying anything that contributes significantly to the quality of your work or to your audience’s positive experiences with your brand.

B // Research how other people in your industry handle the process you are trying to improve right now. People often share what tools they use. If you happen to find some awesome ones during your research, write them down on your worksheet.

C // Research how people in other industries accomplish similar results. Thinking and looking outside of your niche can often cause you to come up with something innovative and epic. Record any ideas on your creative action plan worksheets.

D // Turn to some of your favorite resources for doing business and being awesome. Below are some articles to check out as well as some sites where you can take creative classes that might help you streamline some of your processes.

8 Social Media Marketing Tools for Bloggers by Ciera Holzenthal

1 Clever Way to Streamline Your Client Process by Lauren Hooker

15 Creative Business Tools I Use Daily

22 Gmail Plugins That All Content Marketers Need to Know About by Neil Patel

Take a class: Skillshare // CreativeLive //

How to Write a Creative Action Plan You'll Actually Follow (Tweet)

Section 4: What improvements can I make to my online presence in terms of functionality and organization?

A // What are the top five reasons someone might land on your site? What are the top five referring sites/sources people will be coming from? Depending on where a potential visitor has come from, what their expectations are, and what their goal/reason for checking out your online presence is, you have the serious potential to delight, overwhelm, answer, confuse, excite, annoy, or simply whelm–is that a word? It’s not overwhelm or underwhelm, just whlem. Don’t whelm, my friends. Help your people out.

Just recently I finally finished The Library, which makes all of my posts easy to access. Formerly that page had been seriously underwhelming. I also added some questions to my contact page, but plan to redesign it to be a bit more like my friends over at Station Seven Creative. Is that page not one of the best contact pages ever? It helps people get to what they really want to know and it saves the owners tons of time.

Think about your own site for a few minutes and use your worksheets to brainstorm and write out some things you’d like to change. For the top five reasons people are visiting you and coming from the top five referral sites people are coming from . . . are you meeting expectations? Are you helping? Is the organization sensible? What’s the wow factor? Is your website being a good employee?

Use your site for a few minutes from the perspective of a first-timer, and a tenth-timer, and a person who wants to do business with you. Try to stretch yourself to write down at least 10 things you want to change. Perhaps all the changes aren’t necessary after deeper reflection, but try to stretch your thinking. You are always growing as a business owner, your brand is always growing, and your presence and content are likely going to need to grow and morph to keep up.

B // You probably know what I’m going to say next. Research time. Head to your favorite, superstar brands in your industry and use their sites for a few minutes as a first-timer, and a tenth-timer, and a person who wants to buy from them. How simple is the process? Could you find everything you needed? Were the functions you expected all present? Did anything not function well or frustrate you? Are there some concepts you can pull out and put your authentic spin on? Make some notes.

C // DEFINITELY check out other industries for this category. You might find some cool page/post ideas, some unique ways to organize or present your content, and perhaps even some new-fangled functionality stuff that would be epic for your niche.

D // Check out some suhweet blogs with advice in this area. I’ve got some greatness for you below.

How to Really Prioritize and Organize Your Blog’s Sidebar by Marianne

Blog Shortcuts You Can’t Afford to Make by Kayla Hollatz

Organizing Your Posts in WordPress by Lisa Butler (this is gold!)

Creative Action Plan Worksheets: Develop a strong "business plan" that you can actually follow

Section 5: What improvements can I make to my online presence in terms of availability and quality of content?

A // Whether you create content at a quick or slow pace, whether you spend two hours writing a post or 24+ hours (or you spread the writing of a single post out over days and days–mighta kinda done that with this one), you have to create enough quality content that is easy to find and access in order to keep your people happy. You surely know the ancient phrase:

“Don’t slack on your content. It’s your greeting card, your portfolio, your expertise in a pretty package, and your best chance to (figuratively) drop the mic in life.”

Do you need to start blogging more often? Me too. Do you need to start blogging more purposefully? Do you need to take a new approach to how you put together your posts so that they can be ridiculously valuable and share-worthy blog posts? Do you need to create an eBook or epic resource that really opens doors for you or increases your subscribers/fame? Do you need to add HTML emails to your content creation goals?

Can you guess what I’m going to say next? Use your worksheets to write down at least 10 ways (stretch yourself!) that you can improve your online presence in terms of quality and availability of content.

B // What do others do really well in your industry in terms of content? Do they only post two super helpful posts per week instead of spreading their time between five? How do you think that would work for you in terms of traffic? I definitely am not a fan of changing strategies each week based on the latest thing we see, but I am a big fan of really reflecting on what’s necessary, what’s wise, and what’s best for you and the people you serve. Write down a few notes of what you do and do not want to do with your brand based on what you see others do.

C // Check out other industries and do the same analyzation you did in B above. Any magnificent ideas popping out at you? Record them.

D // And now, for some of my favorite resources from bloggers in the same industry:

6 Simple Ways to Brainstorm Blog Post Ideas + A Free Worksheet by Laura Huebner

5 Innovative Ways to Create Better Blog Posts (That Get Shared, Pinned, and Loved) by Melyssa Griffin

How I Use an Editorial Calendar to Organize My Blog by Alisha

30 Blogging Prompts by Kayla Hollatz

How to Create Super Share-Worthy Blog Posts (and a Template of What They Should Include)

How to Write a Creative Action Plan You'll Actually Follow (Tweet)

Section 6: What improvements or additions can I make to my online presence in terms of design?

A // Can I say something really honest and perhaps really not nice? I don’t do it on purpose. I promise. But, it’s really hard for me to stay on a site that has poor design, or distracting design, or 15-years-too-old design, etc. Design is just so crucial to the way people interact with your brand. Design honestly makes such a difference for so many people that they will not stick around and consume your content if your aesthetics are off. Judging a book by its cover (in this sense) saves your visitors tons of time in their often fast-paced lives.

Now, if there was nothing you could do about your design, and tools such as Squarespace and Canva didn’t exist, then I would be all for the whole “Shouldn’t the content be what matters? Can’t people look past the surface?” argument. But the truth is–business is not your childhood soccer team where everyone got playing time no matter how much they didn’t want to play or how much they kicked the ball directly to the other team because they thought those jerseys were prettier. No. Good design is attainable and free (or seriously low $$) these days, so a brand’s lack of decent design messes up its image and typically its earning potential as well.

Be honest with yourself and record some notes on what needs to change about your design. Even if you’re not sure how to make it happen yet, write down your ideas for making it better for your audience. Do you need less color? Is it distracting? Does it not match the impression you are trying to leave with others?

B // Briefly check out the designs of others in your industry. I say briefly because I think you should spend more time being inspired by brands that are not in your same niche/space, but it’s probably a good idea to at least be aware of what others in your industry are doing.

C // Now, spend some legit time looking at your favorite niches not really related to your own. What are they doing with design? What works for you when you see it? What confuses or repulses you? Make notes on things you want to incorporate in your own brand.

D // Check out some of the epic FREE resources from my friends below to help you with design.

4 Signs That Your Visual Branding Needs a Facelift and Sprucing Up Your Branding by Ciera Holzenthal

A Showcase of Beautiful Headers by Marianne

How + Why to Create a Style Guide for Your Blog by Melyssa Griffin

How to Create a Style Guide for Your Blog or Brand

How to Create an Aesthetic Driven Moodboard by Kayla Hollatz

The Awkward Stages of a Brand Redesign by Maya Elious

The Rebranding Conversation (and Tips) from My Better-Looking Twin

What’s the Difference: Brand Design, Web Design, and Web Development by Lisa Butler

How to Create a Style Guide for Your Blog: From the Library 20 Ways to Help Your Brand Stand Out: From the Library A Conversation About Rebranding: From the Library

Section 7: What can I do or create to help more of my audience take action on my paid products and services?

A // I’m gonna lead straight in with a shameful example from my own brand on this one >> until last week at some point, I didn’t have an eBook store page on my website. What?! I’ve shared with you how eBooks and printed books made up $36K of my income in year one. Why in the world would I not build a page for my eBooks and make it much simpler for people to find them? They were previously jumbled together on a page with my other products and they were hard to purchase. Booooo, Regina. I mean, I knew it was bad when someone emailed me asking me where on my site they could find my books. I thought it was so clear, but no, that was just an overwhelmed entrepreneur talking.

All the while, much more responsible entrepreneurs such as Ciera Holzenthal had a pretty shop page to preview her products, and my new best bud Lisa Butler took the time to create a beautiful freebie and attractive landing page for people to sign up to be notified about her Get Your Website Together course. These ladies are super smart.

So, let’s take a look at your products and services. Consider asking yourself:

  • Are my products and services easy to find?
  • Do they have their own page? Do they have their own site (when applicable)?
  • Have I written a blog post about them?
  • How often do I share them via email and social media?
  • Do I have clear paths mapped out that lead people to each product? Ex: Free blog post, to free email course, to offer for one of the limited spots in my paid course.
  • Are there multiple paths per product or service?
  • How simple is it for people to read a description of my product and then purchase it?
  • Is it simple to find and purchase on a mobile device?
  • Are some of my products previewed in my sidebar?
  • Have I created attractive preview images of my products to share in multiple venues?
  • Do I mention and link to applicable services or products in my blog posts regularly?
  • Do I have affiliate programs or any other incentives for people to share my products?
  • If the only thing leading people toward your product is a menu link that says “store,” or “shop,” that’s likely not enough to drive the sales you want. Take some time to explore the ideas above and anything else you can think of, then write them down on your worksheets.

    B // Now, let’s look into how other brand owners in your space are guiding people toward their products. You might consider singing up for the email lists of other similar brands and checking out their websites, social media accounts, online events, and communities. How do they sell? What path do they set out for their clients? Does it feel authentic to you? Too pushy? Not purposeful? Jot down some notes on what you will and won’t consider for your brand.

    C // As you may have guessed by this point in the post, it’s now time to check on some brands outside of your industry. How do they lead people to buy? If Ramit Sethi’s epic epic page on his site on How to Start a Successful Business Online isn’t the most enticing and cool thing to get people into his system and on the path to one of his courses, then I forrealzies don’t know what is.

    Write down some ideas of how you can translate other industry practices into your own authentic thing.

    D // I’m partial to my online buddies (I’ll admit), but I really do think I’ve compiled some legit pieces on creating + selling awesome products as well as attracting clients to your goods.

    6 Reasons Why No One is Buying What You Are Selling by Alisha

    How to Create a Buying Frenzy for Your Online Product by Lauren Hooker

    10 Essential Strategies to Help Entrepreneurs Find Their Dream Clients by Peg Fitzpatrick (this is the woman who inspired + helped me the most when I first began serious blogging–I love her!)

    How to Expand a Blog Post (or Series) Into a Book

    10 “Content Upgrade” Ideas to Get More Subscribers, Leads, and Sales by Pat Flynn

    How to Create a Killer Mini-Course in 12 Hours

    Creative Action Plan Worksheets: Develop a strong "business plan" that you can actually follow

    Section 8: What can I do when business is slow to still feel accomplished?

    A // As you establish and maintain a creative business, you’ll likely notice that some periods are much busier than others. When you’re not as busy with client work and various projects, there are still tons of things you can do to grow your business and stay positive. Can you brainstorm some things you might want to do when business is slow?

    B // Use the articles below (among any other resources you can find) to record several things you can do when your customers and projects are all taken care of for the moment. This portion of your creative action plan will be an excellent place to return to again and again so that you learn to really take advantage of slow periods.

    40 Things to Do When Business is Slow to Help Grow Your Business

    How Can I Get My Blog and Brand Noticed Online? by Erika Madden

    19 Tips + Tricks for Planning + Creating Shareable Content by Maya Elious

    How to Create an Editorial Calendar You’ll Actually Follow by Lisa Butler

    Seven Days of Self-Care for Creatives by Jen Carrington

    What to do When Business is Slow: From the Library The 30-Day Creative Business Cleanse: From the Library 33 Ways to Get Serious About Social Media: From the Library

    Section 9: What administrative and backend tasks can I do now so they won’t be hanging over my head later?

    A // Even if you love the heck out of your business, there is probably some portion of what you have to do that is not your favorite. And the hilarious thing (which is actually not funny at all) is that most of the tasks you hate don’t take forever and a day–we always seem to build up things we don’t like or fully grasp as much more than what they actually are. Jot down the backend tasks you don’t care for or that you often forget. Record the items that you’re neutral or excited about too; write down everything administrative-y that goes into running your business.

    B // Ask around for recommendations and processes that other entrepreneurs use to get their administrative work done or to complete tasks their not excited about.

    C // Check out some of the ideas and tools in the posts below on backend tasks, auditing, cleaning, organizing, and more, for inspiration on the best way to tackle these projects.

    Accounting + Money Management for the Independent Creative by Ravyn

    How I Use Google Drive and Dropbox to Organize My Business by Alisha

    The 30-Day Creative Business Cleanse

    10 Best Accounting Tools for Freelancers by Tomas

    Wave Accounting saves me!

    Section 10: What can I do when I don’t know what I should be doing?

    A // Use this section as your cheat sheet section of your creative action plan. Basically, if you only have a free minute or so, but want to make sure you’re on track with your business or that you know what to pursue when it feels like there is nothing to do, this is the one section of your plan you’ll turn to.

    B // Compile 5 – 10 of your tasks from the other sections that are simple to understand, 5 – 10 that can be accomplished quickly, 5 – 10 of the most important tasks, and 5 – 10 other items you care about. You’ll always have a strong list of items waiting for you if you replace the things you complete with new ideas.

    C // Check out the sources below for tips that you might want to include in your “don’t know what I should be doing” category.

    4 Tips for Consistent Blogging by Lisa Butler

    20 Actions You Can Take to Look Like a Pro Blogger

    10 Ways to Expand Your Small Business by Ciera Holzenthal

    7 Epic Time Investments You Can Make in Your Business

    20 Epic Blog Hacks in Less Than 20 Minutes by Jessica Johansen

    33 Ways to Get Serious About Blogging

    How to Write a Creative Action Plan You'll Actually Follow (Tweet)

    Final Step: Let’s Make It Actionable

    Take your notes from these 10 sections/questions and compile them into a digital document. Rewrite things as actionable steps and tips. Start your sentences with verbs and commands: Write five more . . . Do a . . . Email three . . . and so on. I recommend you record at least 10 items per section/question above. This way, every time you access your Creative Action Plan you’ll have actionable commands and actual items to cross off then replace.

    If you keep an ever-changing doc, then you’ll always have business goals that are simple to understand. You’ll always have steps or items you want to and need to carry out. Having a creative action plan (even though I do love me some business plans too) was a large part of helping me move into my business full time and I hope this process will really help you too.

    Photo: (c) show it better

    88 Comments on “How to Write a Creative Action Plan You’ll Actually Follow”

    1. Grrrrrrreat article, lady! I can’t wait to get started on this, it’s pretty much exactly what I need right now. I’ve been toying with the idea of creating a bona fide business plan for ages, but it felt kind of intimidating – action, however? That’s definitely up my street! Thanks for all the fab advice and the mentions! ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Jessica, thank you for checking it out. I’m all about the action, too. It just seems so much more useful.

        And you are definitely welcome for the mentions. You create pure magic over their on your blog and around the Internet in general!

    2. I’m kind of a plan maker addict and in the process of simplifying & getting focused, so this is very helpful! I love the idea of looking to other niches for inspiration as well. Epic post per usual:)

      • Becky, thank you for taking time out to read + comment today. Out-of-niche inspiration has been the hugest thing for me–I love it.

        Lovely to see your face as always. Thanks again for responding.

    3. Not even going to lie, I have always been so hesitant to make a business plan bc the thought of it made me cringe..but this Action Plan..THIS I can definitely do! Thank you so much for the resources and thank you for including my posts too!

      • Alisha, ha–I feel you! Thank you for taking time out to read this. And linking to you is the easiest thing in the world to do. You create such authentic and wonderful stuff for us.

    4. This is a great article with lots of valuable tips! My blog is only 4 months old, but since I started using Canva my images got much better and my traffic grew. Thanks for sharing these tips!

      • Rosa, ahhh yes, good old Canva. It’s seriously one of the most amazing creations in the online business/blogging space ever.

        Thank you for spending some time checking out this post and commenting. I appreciate you, Rosa.

    5. Seriously. You manage to make such complicated things seem so simple. How do you do it? It must be some sort of super power. Thanks for all the info in this post!

      • Haha. If I had a super power, I definitely think I’d want the whole Superman flying around and being awesome thing, but I do appreciate your comment and will surely claim that super power instead.

        Thank you for always taking time out to leave feedback.

    6. Ahhhhhhhhh. I am all fangirl over this post. SO much valuable + truly helpful info here, Regina. I liked that you linked to the Likeable Social Media book, too. That was my all-time fave read when I was in the process of getting off the ground, and I think it’s useful for anyone to read — not just social media managers of huge companies.

      Just checking out your new product page now. Loving it. I want to hear more in the future about how you like DPD — perhaps a comparison of how it works out vs. Gumroad, ease of implementation, etc. Just a suggestion because I know how much time you have on your hands these days… ๐Ÿ˜‰ Har har.

      • Erika, you are so good to me, my friend. I really do appreciate that you make time to come read and leave really awesome, genuine comments. I agree with you about Likeable, it’s really useful for anyone to read. I wasn’t expecting that book to be as epic as it was in shifting my thinking.

        I still use Gumroad, but do like several DPD (and SendOwl) features so I decided to branch out. You’re hilarious because I literally have DPD vs. Gumroad in my planner as a post to write. DPD is not as intuitive and is only cost effective over Gumroad after a certain dollar amount per month in sales–since both have PayPal/Stripe/processing fees built in, DPD seems like a $$ saver on the surface, but doesn’t actually save you until a few hundred dollars in sales.

        I don’t think there is one correct answer and I DO love the Gumroad team, their software, their multiple options, and their low fees (that are per transaction instead of straight out of your bank account) when you’re first starting out.

    7. As per usual, excellent post chalk full of resources! I follow and have used many of these tips myself, but things are always a work in progress. I’ll be going back and referencing many of them as my business grows and they become more relevant to me. Thanks so much for sharing Regina!

      • Tenns, thank you for your comment, and I’m so glad you pointed out things are always a work in progress. I don’t think any of us run our businesses to the fullest potential, but there’s fun in learning and in making “mistakes” that you can help others avoid in the future.

        Thank you for taking the time to stop by and comment today.

    8. I’m only half way through this post and I’ve already gotten my entire life about 4 times. Thank you! ::off to read the rest::

      • Haha, this is an awesome comment, Dani. Thank you. P.S. I really like the look of your clean site.

        I appreciate that you took time to comment today!

    9. Regina, this couldn’t have come at a better time for me! I’m starting to really need better practical planning and just scouring the interwebs for inspiration, and then your new post appeared! YAY!

      You are a blogging goddess, and I’m so happy I picked you to stalk ๐Ÿ™‚

      j x

      • Jane, how amazing and sweet of you! Thank you for your comment and I’m glad this was great timing for you.

        P.S. The way you style your posts (like this one) looks really awesome. The formatting is great and makes it very easy to read–and to want to keep reading.

        Thank you for taking the time to stop by today and to leave an awesome response.

    10. Wow! Regick, I am going to get myself a Match Latte (in a mug) and sit with this amazing sharing you just did. I am so excited to get started.

      You are the best.

      • Abbie, thank you so much for this comment, and thank you for your latte idea. I need some of that right now.

        P.S. I love the beauty + simplicity of your site’s logo and ALL your wonderful art. I can’t draw, paint, or sketch to save a baby tiger’s life, and I LOVE baby tigers.

    11. I’m like a kid in a candy store with this post. Worksheets! Lists! Links galore! Action Steps for an Action Plan! This was a delicious post, and I am so jazzed to dig in and get creative with it. I’m especially impressed with all of the links you’ve curated for this. I love that you share so many of the sources for your ideas and inspiration. You are a master!
      Thanks, Sensei!
      xx Sydney

      • Yay, Sydney. Thank you for this comment and feedback on the links–you’re definitely motivating me to make sure I do that more often.

        I know I’ve said this before, but you and Lane have the coolest looking site and the best content. Y’all truly stand out so much in your niche. Thank you for working hard and sharing all that with us.

    12. This is a very thorough walk through! I love every single bits of it. Thank you so much Regina. I am pinning it for future rereading. I am going to take actions now. You have such a talent.

      I also appreciate all the links you have put in here. So much information – very generous of you to compile them together! i haven’t gone through all of them hence the pinning, but going through some of them has definitely kicked started what I am suppose to do.


      • Amira, I was just looking over your site and you are just sooooo talented. Wow.

        Thank you for taking the time to read this post and to comment. I’m glad those links are helping. There really are so many entrepreneurs writing such valuable stuff on the web. It makes me very happy to see it and share it.

        Thank you again for your comment.

    13. If I could sing, I’d start off this comment with Tina’s “Simply The Best” because it’s what occurred to me right from clicking to the PDF.
      To be honest, I completed my Blog Business Plan which took me months to do. I am so proud I have. As if it were the first real grown-up thing I’ve ever done. I may want to keep it all my life! Although, I haven’t printed yet because it always feel like I may want to change things and then it will be messed up! So, yeah I guess I’ll keep it digital as you recommend. I’m all excited to do this plan as well because there are definitely improvements to make!
      On a side note, when I see the length of your post, I feel way less depressed to have spent more than 10 hours working on my last article. I bet you have spent even more time on this one. You’re really amazing. I really feel I blog better thanks to you. I’d like to tell you 2 real facts that happen to me last week. I was reading an article about tasks to complete, but at the end… no worksheet! Obviously I thought about you and that you did things better. Second, I was listening to Problogger’s podcast on elevator speeches. Not his fault, but you already had made me writing a complete brand statement I’m proud of.
      I know I say that a lot but you truly offer some premium quality content and I couldn’t be grateful enough! I know you have a great success now but at least for the days you may feel insecure and self-doubting -I’m sure even you have these when spending so much time writing alone- you are simply the best!! Ok, you’re going to think I’m in love or obsessed if I don’t stop soon, so I’ll just end with a simple thank you, all your work is appreciated and highly valued!

      • I’m seriously so happy that you completed your blog business plan, and I totally understand it taking months to do, but I’m proud to know people that care about their businesses that much.

        And seriously, thank you. Each time I see a comment from you I get very excited. You always have super encouraging words for me and they’re always exactly what I need to hear. I’m just grateful that you take time out of your day to help me along. Thank you so much.

    14. Holy sheeet Regina, this is one insane post. I mean, not like all of them aren’t insane but wow epic. I am one of those who poopoos business plans in favor of just getting things done, but this, this just makes so much sense. I love how you broke everything down into simple actionable steps that applies to both beginners AND pros alike.

      I love how you didn’t even realize your shop wasn’t that obvious to everyone else and that you finally changed it, it looks totally amazing btw! I hadn’t even heard of DPD, do you know if they have an affiliate program? Btw, are YOU going to set one up?? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Gumroad is now doing that FINALLY! Well in beta anyways…

      Thank you so so much for including some of my posts in your epic write up, it means so much to me that you found them worthy of inclusion ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks again for always being so giving with us!

      • Marianne, thank you, thank you for your comment. Yeah, I honestly love business plans but find myself accessing and operating off of my creative action plan more often.

        And yes, DPD has an affiliate program; I’m going to be setting up one with them for people who’ve taken classes with me, so . . . I’ll be in contact. And I’m glad Gumroad is setting that functionality up–I do think it’s super important for a lot of people’s business models.

        And you are more than welcome; I’m so happy to include your posts. Thank you for creating such value, Marianne.

    15. every time I read one of your blog posts I feel like I took a small course! Thanks for the valuable information! I’ve been really intentional about growing AND connecting with my audience lately so taking action to decide how to do that will be even more helpful. Also – thanks for linking one of my posts! You da best, sis. ๐Ÿ™‚

    16. WHOA! This post just blew me away! These are really some amazing tips and packed with info. I definitely took notes, just like I do with all of your other posts! ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I’ve sort of had a “social media plan” I guess you could call it, but I’m totally starting to implement your tips with this plan!

      THANK YOU! ๐Ÿ™‚

    17. Ahh, thank you so much; I absolutely love this post! There’s so much relevant information and I can’t wait to get started!

    18. Hi Regina,
      Thank you SO much for all of this information! I definitely needed something like this in my life to get myself focused and create “business plan” but more importantly a CAP! Love it! “Business plan” sounds so serious. I love your voice and blog. Thanks for all of your insight! I’m just starting out in the fashion blogging world, but all of your expertise and tips are very universal, so thank you so very much!! xo

    19. Regina, this post sent me into a wave of snorting, giggly giddiness! I absolutely love how meaty and helpful your posts are. I’m doing your creative coaching class right now and I see this as a super bad-ass piece of cornerstone content! ๐Ÿ˜€


    20. Regina… I just spent the last 2 hours completing the worksheets!! It’s really helpful to sit down & be forced to think of answers to your questions – makes me feel like I really do have a plan now! Thank you so much for over-delivering in this post (as with your other posts). YOU ROCK.

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    22. Regina, I love the idea of creating an action plan. This is another epic post per usual and I love how you linked to other post for additional resources. You’re the bomb dot com. Ok now back to my Blog to Profit HW. ๐Ÿ™‚

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    24. I can not express enough how much I love your blog and all the valuable information you share. Currently, I have been in the process of working on my own blog and your blog has been my go-to reference place. Love all around.

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    26. You caught my attention when you mentioned “overwhelmed”. As you suggest, it’s easy to feel as if you are being buried. I can not wait to put your recommendations to work. Thanks for taking the time to share!

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    28. Love the idea of a an action plan rather than a business plan. The things you list on it are really thought provoking – I look forward to working through the process. Thanks for sharing.

    29. Just finished this section from your GoIndepedant Course, and it was much need for me. I’ve been blogging for about 6 years on and off and never ever took the time to put this kind of effort into blogging. I’m using your course to help take my lifestyle guide blog (yea I know) to the next level. I believe taking these steps will help me find my focus and master it. My ultimate goals is to be a great resource for stay at home, homeschooling parents.

      Thanks so much for your free information, I’m so happy to have found you! You rock!!

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    37. Wow, I have so much work to do! I am glad that I found you on Pinterest, Regina! I have never found a resource that was actually helpful and detailed as yours. I am so excited and ready to revamp everything, lol. My brand needs life, thank you for all that you do!

    38. Regina, this is such a fantastic resource! I’m taking your free Go Independent course, which led me to this Creative Action Plan. There’s so much I have going on in my head – what I want to do, how to do it, systems, etc. – and this is helping me focus and prioritize. Thank you so much for creating + sharing this, Regina!

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    44. I am late in finding this article and I sure am glad I found it! Truly impressive and easy to follow. I am printing it out and having it by my side as I continue developing Travel as a Class Act. Coming your way in June, 2016! Please check it out for your will see I used your suggestions. Question: I tried to download the working papers with no success. Is there a trick or are they in the 80 page booklet I subscribed to receive?

    45. Wow, Regina. What an incredible, actionable post! I’m looking forward to really implementing this plan to get my blog + biz off the ground! Your resources are SO appreciated!

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    48. Once again Regina, you are super helpful! I created my Creative Action Plan as I read through this post. I already feel better about my blog and realize how important it is to be scheduling things out. Thanks ๐Ÿ™‚

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    50. Love, love, love this article! Finally a way to get those ideas out of my head and my business moving forward …THANK YOU

    51. This makes me feel so action-y! I’m glad I have this for reference. I’ve been slowly trying to monetize my hobby. This is super helpful!

    52. After realizing my dad had dementia, I moved back home to care for him so he could live out his days in his own home. That was 2012-14. I am now moving in with my mother in law. She doesn’t have dementia, but she does have medical issues that require need assistance. I thought I might start blogging as a means of possible income for the years to come. I was delighted to read this. It has given me a great starting point and insight that I was lacking. I appreciate that you are willing to share your knowledge for those of us who need it. Thank you!

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    57. This is an amazing resource. I keep thinking I need a business plan but the name bores me and an action plan is far more up my street. Going to bookmark this and work through it. Thank you!

    58. Wow! This article is really awesome. You’re very helpful Regina ๐Ÿ™‚ if ever you need a service provider for your data processing and customer services needs, etc. Please feel free to contact us. Thank you!


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    60. Whew. This is an amazingly valuable and useful document. I was hitting a bit of a mental road block with my business. This has given me tons of things to improve upon. Thank you!

    61. For twenty-plus years, my husband and I were in an advertising/marketing/consulting business together and we wrote lots of business plans for clients. But that was twenty-plus years ago, and my, how things have changed! Now that I’ve been blogging for about two years (with no followers-sob!) I decided I want to make my blog profitable. Thus: I have to write a business plan. I like Creative Action Plan much better! Thanks!

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      • Loved it! My kids already have names and they’re boys so…I can still name my lovable cat “Regina”.

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