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Are You Willing To Think About Marketing Differently

Are You Willing To Think About Marketing Differently

“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued.”
~ Brené Brown

Lately I’ve had a phrase that keeps playing in my head and I’m feeling called to share it:

You don’t get paid to do your marketing, you do your marketing to get paid.

I can’t tell you how often I hear from business owners that they don’t have the time, inclination, inspiration or discipline to be consistent in their marketing efforts and it pains me every time I do. I see good people doing important work in the world, not making enough money to be sustainable, because they have a really terrible relationship with marketing. Just the word makes some people retreat.

Is that you? Do you feel like your business life would be all sunshine and rainbows if you could just be successful already without having to do any marketing? If so, then I’m hoping that what you read here today changes how you feel about the M word.

Before we dive in though. Take a moment now to close your eyes, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself what marketing means to you? If you have pen and paper, jot down your thoughts before reading on.

I want to share with you some common problems I see when it comes to how conscious business owners feel about marketing, along with my suggested reframes. See if you can relate.

You see marketing as inherently bad and to market your work is to be pushy, icky and salesy. It means shouting about yourself, being an attention-seeker, annoying or bothering people — being salesy.

Of course I get this, it makes perfect sense — a lot of marketing online is manipulative and unethical and nearly always focused on getting the sale. It, therefore, makes perfect sense that you would want to avoid it as much as possible, but and it’s a big but — there is another way! You absolutely can do marketing without being these things.

One of my favourite reframes is to think about connecting with people rather than marketing to them.

If you think about connecting or having a conversation with another human beings on the subject of your area of expertise, does it bring up the same feelings? If you think about that connection in the context of the Brené Brown quote at the top of this article, can you image a way to connect with people in your network that has them feel seen, heard and valued? Isn’t that preferable?

Of course traditional marketing is pretty gross and self-serving but it doesn’t have to be.

If how you connect with your people is valuable to them and helps them to overcome difficulties or struggles in their life, why wouldn’t you want to do more of it?

Think about the people you admire in your industry, the newsletters you look forward to reading. For sure they will be few and far between but my guess is that there are some blog posts, newsletters, Instagram feeds that add to your day and how would you feel if the people behind those pieces of content suddenly decided to stop sharing their wisdom on the regular because they don’t want to “bother” you.

Marketing is only a nuisance if it’s spammy, manipulative, fluff. Don’t put out spammy and manipulative fluff and you’re good to go.

You don’t always enjoy marketing and and only feel able to show up when you feel inspired to do so.

I was talking to a client about recommitting to her content schedule and her plan to do weekly FB lives. The problem, she complained, was that she didn’t always feel like going live and so often that meant she didn’t. To her it seemed logical that if she didn’t feel like showing up, she shouldn’t push herself to do so.

So I asked this question: What do you do when you have a client session booked in that you don’t feel like doing? She didn’t miss a beat in telling me that she would of course show up anyway.

Can you relate to that? Does showing up for your clients feel different to showing up for your audience? I get it AND, I think that this is something it would serve you well to shift. This is where the idea that “we don’t get paid to do our marketing but instead do our marketing to get paid” comes from.

In my mind it’s a mistake to separate out the marketing of your business and the delivery of your services. It seems short-sighted to say I will give my all to my clients and show up powerfully for them and then be flakey and unreliable in your marketing. Why? Because if you show up inconsistently to the very people who might be considering investing in your services, then why would they think things would be different once they’ve paid you? How are your prospective clients going to trust you enough to hire you if they see you only showing up when you feel like it?

It’s clear to me that these two are related. If we see marketing as the devil’s work then of course we’re not going to feel like doing it or imposing it on to our people.

So it follows that we have to redefine what marketing means for us.

Allow me to share a little of my behind the scenes to show you what conscious marketing can look and feel like.

Writing my weekly newsletter is my most important marketing activity of the week. Its contents now becoming this blog post. I’ll also repurpose it for my Medium profile, LinkedIn profile as well as Facebook and Instagram. In short, if I didn’t write the newsletter, I wouldn’t have any of my other marketing materials.

Here’s how I created the newsletter behind this very piece. One morning after my husband and little ones left for work, school and nursery, I had breakfast and a shower. I then made a tall cup of hot chai with oat milk (my new favourite beverage with which I’m obsessed!) and headed to my office.

The first thing I do these days is burn my favourite incense (it reminds me of my days of living in Thailand) and play a track of windchime and birdsong sounds on repeat. (One of my lovely clients has actual windchimes in her home and when we have sessions the sound of them feels so calming that I decided to recreate it).

Then I opened up my Mailchimp and started the email. I should mention that I block off the whole of Monday mornings from 9am — 12.30pm to write my newsletter. It takes time to create valuable content and I want to honour that.

Usually I’ve thought about the topic ahead of time. I like to mull it over when I’m in the shower and at other points in my day — I also believe that when I come up with the topic ahead of time, my subconscious mind works on it when I’m not even thinking about it.

Before and as I write, I hold the intention to serve. I truly want my weekly letters to help the reader (you!) so I’m mindful to give as much as I can in support of your business growth.

There is nothing about this marketing activity that feels icky to me. I love writing, so for me the task itself is enjoyable and I love the topic of “conscious business” so I’m super inspired to share about it and my setup feels calming and nourishing, like I’m sitting down to my craft. To make art even.

Sometimes I also share something about what I have on offer and other times I don’t. I always separate out the content of the email from the selling of my services so as not to muddy the water. I want what I share in my content to be of value to you even if you don’t buy what I’m selling.

Can you feel the difference between this and how you might have approached marketing in the past? 

The point I’m trying to make here is that it’s possible to do marketing in a conscious and compassionate way and for it to feel good. I truly believe it’s possible to fall in love with marketing if you’re willing to see it in a whole new light.

So now over to you, what could you change about your relationship to marketing that would have it feel good to you and to your people? What could you change in how you approach your marketing activities to make it feel more soulful? If you feel called to share with me, feel free to leave a comment below.

SIGN UP FOR MY SOULFUL STRATEGIES WEEKLY

 

Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.

How To Reach Even More People Without Burning Yourself Out

How To Reach Even More People Without Burning Yourself Out

In this article I share the best way to reach a wider audience and how to do so without burning yourself out.

Yes you might have guessed that I am talking about content again but bear with me.

If you’re anything like the many business owners I’ve coached, you fall into one of the following three categories:

1. You have a complete block when it comes to creating content and struggle to do it at all or you do create it, but only when the mood takes you and so not consistently at all.

2. You do create content somewhat consistently, but you know you don’t do a very good job of sharing it and have a feeling that not enough people are seeing it (which, in turn, feels discouraging).

3. You are very consistent in your content creation and have a whole strategy around having it be seen by as many people as possible.

I’ll let you into a secret, I rarely coach anyone who falls under number 3, but if you think about the established businesses you follow and buy from online, you can bet that they do.

Which is why, I personally, have #3 as a clear goal that I work on week after week. It’s also why I’m like a dog with a bone, with my clients, when it comes to content. Consistent content creation is one of the key factors in the success of my business.

I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again:

Your content is your absolute best way to let your audience know about you, your point of view and your expertise. 

But I get it, just thinking about consistent content creation can feel exhausting. I’m here to tell you that it needn’t be this way. Repurposing your content can increase your reach at the same time as lessening your workload. Say what??

Let me explain. What do I even mean by repurposing your content? Well for me repurposing means taking something you have already created, a blog post, a PDF worksheet, a social media post, a newsletter and turning it into another piece of content.

Let me give you some examples of how I do this in my business.

I turn old newsletters into Medium articles, which then become blog posts, which then become LinkedIn articles which then become Facebook posts. You can see here how I turned this newsletter into this Medium article, this blog post and this LinkedIn article. Obviously I needed to make a few tweaks and this case I changed the title a few times, but essentially, it’s pretty much the same content, shared over the course of several months.

I also turn workbooks or other resources into blog posts. For example, you can see how I turned this workbook from a free challenge I ran last year into this blog post.

3. I also occasionally re-use blog posts as social media posts. No extra work required, literally just copying and pasting segments of a longer piece into shorter bite-size posts.

4. I even repurpose video content. For example, I used the notes I prepared for this Facebook Live to create this blog post.

Now I know what you might be thinking, the biggest objective I get from my clients when I share this approach is that they worry about coming across as repetitive to their audience. Please trust me when I tell you that this is in fact quite difficult to do and I’ll tell you why.

The percentage of people who are currently seeing your content, reading your blog posts, newsletters or social media posts is incredibly low.

The stats tell us that on average just over 20% of people on your mailing list are reading your emails and the percentage of people who are seeing your business facebook posts is around 6.4%. So you see, the majority of your audience aren’t in fact seeing your content at all. Which is why, sharing your content more widely and repurposing regularly is an absolute must if you want to truly reach and engage with your audience. You could share the same content in a newsletter, then as a social media post and then as a blog post and I guarantee that a large chunk of people in your audience still won’t see it!

So you see repurposing and doing it regularly is the surest way to reach more of your people without burning yourself out.

Want to learn a content strategy that adds value instead of adding to the noise?

Introducing the my Kinder Content Marketing Training. Learn a more compassionate and easeful approach to content marketing. Over 4.5 hours of video footage plus a comprehensive resource guide on my 3-part strategy to get more eyes on your content for only 60€. Click here or the image below for more details and to buy. 

Stop Asking For The Sale (And Do This Instead)

Stop Asking For The Sale (And Do This Instead)

“A salesperson’s ethics and values contribute more to sales success than do techniques or strategies.”
~ Ron Willingham

Let me start by sharing the fact that I’ve built both my current and former businesses without ever “asking” for the sale inside of a conversation with a potential client.

I started my life coaching business back in 2014, following the 4-step approach laid out in a book called The Prosperous Coach by Steve Chandler and Rich Litvin. That approach looks like this:

Step 1 – Connect – Who would I love to speak to?
Step 2 – Invite – Would you like to experience a powerful coaching conversation?
Step 3 – Create – Serve them so powerfully they never forget your conversation for the rest of their life.
Step 4 – Propose – Are you in? Hell yeah or no?

As a strategy for creating clients, I loved it. This approach allowed me to coach people regularly even before I had many clients and, in doing so, spend most of my “business” time doing what I most loved to do – helping people to create the transformation they were seeking in their life.

I had absolutely no problem with step 1 – connecting with people, in fact outreach was and still is one of the favourite parts of my work. Nor did I struggle with step 2 – because being able to offer the gift of coaching to people who can really benefit is a wonderful way to practice true generosity in business, which feels wonderful to me! In terms of step 3 – I’m not sure if all of my complimentary coaching sessions will be remembered forever by those that have had one BUT giving my all to each and every session never failed to leave me with a feeling of deep fulfilment.

Where I struggled and where many of the people I work with struggle was with step 4 – making the proposal, i.e. asking for the sale or inviting someone to consider or discuss working together. For me it felt so out of alignment with my values. Offering someone the gift of a complimentary session and then trying to ask for the sale. Bringing up working together after a deep coaching session just felt off, so I refused to do it. Despite the fact that I was paying $15,000 for a 6 month apprenticeship with a coach who was teaching me this very approach!

Rather than trying to force myself to learn how to ask for the sale and or get better at making the proposal, I worked on everything else that would support the outcome of working together. I worked on:

1. My inner game. Getting myself to a place where I could genuinely show up in service to the person in front of me without feeling needy for the sale AND at the same time being completely open for a sale to occur, should it be a fit for both parties.
2. My service. Making the coaching session (as well as the set up and aftercare) as professional, powerful and impactful as possible.
3. My paid for offering. Getting clear on how someone could work with me should they want to and making my offering clear and easy to find. I’ve worked hard to refine this over the years.
4. My content. Showing up consistently with content that shares my best strategies, methodology and point of view so that the people I’m having gift sessions with already know a lot about the problem I solve, who I solve it for and how I solve it.

Instead of asking for the sale, I would get to the end of my gift session and I would simply say: “is there anything else I can support you with?” and with time something magical started to happen.

People started to consistently ask me what it could look like to work together at the end of the complimentary coaching session. I genuinely don’t recall the last time someone didn’t ask me about working together at the end of a free session with me.

Given that I don’t ask for the sale and my 1:1 practice is still full with a sizable wait list, I know that it’s possible to build a thriving business without becoming an expert at asking for the sale. I have no doubt that putting my attention on all of the above has been far more fruitful for my business than focusing on how to get better at asking for the sale.

If you are giving complimentary sessions in your business and people are not asking you about working together at the end of them, then consider the four areas I outline above and ask yourself which needs working on.

Are you showing up in the right energy or do you feel needy about getting the sale? Something I have found useful to remember over the years is that whilst I might need or want a new client, I don’t need THIS particular person to be that client. That always allowed me to lean back into trusting the process and knowing that the right next client will come.

Are you showing up powerfully to the coaching session and giving your best? If not, consider what you would change in the set up or delivery of your calls if you were to treat this person as if they were already your highest paying client.

Are your offerings clear? A big mistake I see is when service providers have a lot of services on offer without clarity on the difference between them. If someone has taken up your offer of a free session, then it’s highly likely that they’ve checked out your website first, if your services are confusing. absent (you’d be surprised how common this is!) or simply not aligned with what your people need then it doesn’t matter how powerful the session was, a confused mind says no.

Are you creating and sharing content consistently? When people come to your site, are there recent and relevant articles that demonstrate your expertise and speak to the struggles your ideal clients have and the solutions to those struggles? If not, then you are missing a huge opportunity to generate interest in working on you outside of the sales call or free session.

The opportunity to enroll a new client doesn’t simply happen at the end of a free session or discovery call. You could be a master at making the ask and still fall flat if you haven’t taken the time to work on these fundamental pieces.

SIGN UP FOR MY SOULFUL STRATEGIES WEEKLY

 

Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.

Seven Ways to Start Leaning into ease

Seven Ways to Start Leaning into ease

“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
~ Anne Lamott

 

One of my words of the year for 2021 is E A S E. (The other in case you are wondering is Health). The more we get into this year, the more I’m realising that in order to feel truly healthy (rested and nourished in mind, body and soul), the easier my life needs to feel, so leaning into ease is taking top priority for now. 

Why is ease so important for me (and potentially you)? Well personally I have a habit of making things harder than they need to be. What I’m realising is that somewhere along the line, I picked up the idea that in order for the things I do to be valuable or to have meaning they must require hard work.

It’s no surprise that these are linked in my mind. We live in a world that highly values productivity (output) and hard work so it makes sense that the idea I could do work I love, have a positive impact on others, make a decent living AND for it to be easy can at times feel like a pipe dream. Perhaps you can relate? 

Here’s the thing though. I absolutely know that it’s possible to have money, impact and ease because I’ve seen evidence of it in my own life and work. I can also see quite clearly how I get in the way of said ease. For me, it’s over-working – pure and simple. It’s staying at my desk, looking at the screen when instead I should be taking a break. It’s buying into the idea that working harder (instead of smarter) will help me to achieve more, which leads to nothing more than a treadmill type of existence. 

When I examine where this comes from, I think of my old 9-5 life, where presenteeism was a real thing, where it sometimes felt like the best way to demonstrate one’s value was to be “at your desk” – coming in early, staying late, working through lunch – all of which I did and more! Now as my own boss, I’ve come to see how I’ve continued this unhelpful pattern and the negative impact it has on real and sustainable productivity (and life!).

With all of this in mind, I’ve been looking at a combination of practical and mindset changes I can make to get back to a feeling of ease and calm with my work and as a result I’ve been making some changes around here. 

Commiting to ease

As simple as it sounds committing to having life be easier has been a game changer for me lately. In making the commitment, I’m not only taking practical and strategic steps (more on those below) to make this happen but I’m also signalling to my brain that I believe ease is possible even within my demanding schedule (busy full-time business + two small children + yearlong new home refurbishment project!).  

What that has looked like in practice is asking myself on a moment by moment basis, how can this be easier? This question can bring about the simplest changes to bring in more ease, which add up pretty quickly to a calmer and easier way of being. 

Carving out Focus time

My working days are very full, I have a full 1:1 coaching roster and group mastermind, which means I do lots of video calls on a daily basis. Because of this all of the non client facing work (content creation. marketing, product + service creation, business admin etc) I need to do has to get done between calls. Until recently I simply blocked these times out as “work” slots and they could be anything from 1 hour to 3 hours long.

I’ve long known about the power of time blocking but because of how scheduled my days already are, I had been resisting scheduling even more in my calendar. The negative effect of this is that oftentimes I have long periods of time at my desk without clear boundaries around what I am working on and when I can take breaks. Cue reduced focus and increased fatigue.

Lately, I’ve rejoined Focusmate – a tool that allows you to schedule 50 minute accountability sessions with another person to work on a specific task. These really help me to stay on task for a full 50 minutes after which I allow myself a break. Deeply focusing on one task for 50 minutes is far more effective for me than allowing myself 3 unstructured hours in which I aim to “get stuff done”. 

Making breaks sacred

The flip side to scheduling structured focus time is to also schedule clear opportunities for breaks. But if you’re anything like me, breaks often feel like the hardest thing on the schedule to stick to. As Cal Newport says in Deep Work (one of my all-time favourite books):

“Ironically, jobs are actually easier to enjoy than free time, because like flow activities they have built-in goals, feedback rules, and challenges, all of which encourage one to become involved in one’s work, to concentrate and lose oneself in it. Free time, on the other hand, is unstructured, and requires much greater effort to be shaped into something that can be enjoyed.”

Something that has really helped me with this lately is reading. I’ve always been an avid reader but over the last few years since children came into play, reading has become somewhat of a luxury. 

In honour of ease and to support my commitment to taking breaks, I’ve started reading novels again and use my breaks to read for 15 minutes in between sessions or focused work slots. This is working for me on several levels, I now have an incentive to stop working and step away from my desk, I get to do something I love that I had previously struggled to find the time for and because I am reading books that I really enjoy, I get so engrossed that I am able to completely disconnect from my work during my break.

This is very much a win-win as it allows me to take a meaningful break and return to my work feeling rested and re-energised. 

Taking time off

Similar to taking breaks but different. My default for years has been to take time off from my work on an adhoc basis as and only when it feels absolutely necessary. This year, right at the off-set, I booked off all of the school, national and regional holidays. More importantly, I’m committed to being completely OFF work during those times. Recently was a great example.

Here in Spain, Thursday and Friday were holidays and school was closed, rather than do what I would usually do – i.e. juggle work and childcare with my partner and members of his family – instead I took both days off completely. Aside from liking a few posts on Facebook, I did no work whatsoever and it was blissful. Nearly all four days were spent either reading, relaxing in the sun on our piece of land or playing with my boys. 

Have I come back to an overflowing inbox? Sure! Has it taken me awhile to get back into the swing of things this week? Sure! Do I feel 10 times more rested than I did last week? Absolutely 🙂 

Repeating what works

Or put another way, don’t reinvent the wheel. Something I have been putting into place over the last few years is repurposing things I have already created. The temptation for me (and other business owners I’ve talked to) is to always feel like you need to create something new. I see this a lot and I recognise it from my earlier days in business.

What often happens is that we plough a ton of energy into creating something pretty darn good and we publish it, run it, roll it out once and then, without so much as a backward glance, move on to the next thing. What a way to make things harder for ourselves. 

As a fairly prolific creator, repurposing has become my new business besty. I’ll share a very recent and live example. I love creating and running free challenges and over the years I’ve created many. This year in honour of ease, I’m repurposing all of the challenges I’ve previously created. We recently completed my free 14-day content challenge and whereas last year it was an all-consuming event as I created all of the graphics, prompts and emails from scratch and to a deadline, this year all I’ve needed to do was make a few tweaks, schedule the emails and prompts and I was good to go. It’s amazing how good it feels to repeat something versus creating it from scratch. 

As I lean into ease I aim to do this whenever possible. 

Asking for help

As a recovering perfectionist/control freak, asking for help doesn’t come easily for me. Truth be told, I’m much more inclined to tell myself that I know best than to admit that I might not in fact know it all! This year I’m all about asking for help where needed. I’ve hired an assistant who is helping me execute my content plan (he does all of the repurposing for me!), I’ve joined a business mastermind so that I can get the business support I need (yes even business coaches can benefit from business coaching!) and have in the past responded to offers for complimentary coaching sessions on topics such as conscious parentingmindset coaching on letting things be easier and practical self care

It feels like such a gift to be on the receiving end of coaching rather than the one delivering it. I’ve had several coaches over the years but it’s been the longest while since I’ve had anyone supporting me. The insights and shifts I’ve already seen as a result of some of these sessions has been life-changing. 

Keep coming back 

Like all new habits, coming back to ease is a practice and to stay consistent with it, I need to remind myself regularly to do so. Of course, as is usually the way, the Universe has pointed me towards some resources to help with this. Annoyingly, I don’t recall who I got these questions from – I’m fairly certain I found them as I was scrolling through Instagram and now have them typed up, printed out and pinned to the wall above my computer screen: 

1. How can I let this be easy? 
2. Is there someone else who can help me with this?
3. What’s the simplest way to get this done?

Seeing and asking myself these questions on a daily basis really helps to make leaning into ease a daily practice.

And there you have it, 7 things I’ve been doing in my life and business lately to honour my word of the year. 

SIGN UP FOR MY SOULFUL STRATEGIES WEEKLY

 

Once a week, in the form of an e-letter, I share the best of what I know about building a business with integrity for conscious business owners.

The intention behind these letters is to be a voice for integrity within your (undoubtedly) cluttered inbox. To be the one email you can count on to contain strategic and soulful advice for building a business without selling your soul.

If you want to receive the Soulful Strategies Weekly, simply share with me your name and email address below and you’ll start recieving emails right away.

Taming Tech Overwhelm – A Guide to The Essentials

Taming Tech Overwhelm – A Guide to The Essentials

“Discover the tools to build your own vision.”
~ Mary Anne Radmacher

I know how overwhelming tech can be when it comes to setting up your business. It seems like there are a million and one tools we need to buy and learn how to use and with so many different options the task can be daunting and confusing.

Getting hung up on tech (when there are far more important business tasks for you to focus on) is a massive timesuck and a really great breeding ground for procrastination. In this blog post  I share with you the essential tech you need to get started in business and what you might consider upgrading to further down the line.

Your Platform

Every business needs a platform and taking on the mantle of web developer, brand specialist, expert copywriter and web designer all whilst also doing everything else you need to do to get your business up and running can be overwhelming to say the least.

To avoid getting lost on this step, here’s what I recommend…

If building a website feels like a gargantuan task and you don’t have wads of spare cash to pay someone to just do it for you, then consider starting out with a simple Facebook Business Page. This gives you a place to start publishing content, building an audience, showcasing your offering, collecting testimonials and more. If you are at the very beginning of your business journey this can make the most sense while you figure out things like your niche, message, brand etc.

If you’re ready for a website I usually suggest one of these options:

For the hardcore DIYers amongst you and those who love to get into the tech and design of things, consider building your website on WordPress using Divi as your theme. You will need to spend more time maintaining your site and on designing it, but if you’re down for that it’s a great option and the one I’ve personally chosen.

If the idea of messing around in the backend of your site, trying to figure out how to make a box move left 2 inches, brings you out in hives then I recommend Squarespace. It has easy to use, simple and elegant themes, which you won’t be able to customise as much, but on the plus side, things like site maintenance and hosting are all taken care of by Squarespace, so you don’t have to worry about them.

Personally I use WordPress with Divi — because I want to be able to customise my website as I please. But I also know of some enviable Squarespace websites that tempt even me to make the switch.

If you go the WordPress route, you will need hosting — the best hosting experience I’ve had was with WP Engine but they are pricey, I’m in the process of moving over to GreenGeeks, a leading eco-friendly web hosting provider.

Your Brand

When starting out in business it’s easy to look at other more established businesses and find ourselves envying their polished and professional looking brand. We might even start telling ourselves that having something similar is the only way we’ll ever be successful in business, but when professional branding packages start around the $3–5K mark, for most newbie business owners, stumping up this kind of cash is simply impossible. Not only that, but it’s also not advisable, given how much change happens in our businesses during the first couple of years.

So rather than while away the hours, fawning over other people’s stunning photos, gorgeous graphics, logo and fonts, do this instead…

Sign up for a free Canva account and teach yourselves some design basics — Canva has a great little design school full of design and branding classes and mini-courses. I also share a DIY Design class I taught with Steph Lisa Kelly with my Back to Basics members.

Once you’ve gained in confidence, you can start to DIY design a few things to give your business a more professional look and feel. Graphics you might consider creating include your social media channel headers like the one I created here or blog post graphics like the one you’ll see on this post.

The key is to let go of the desire for the perfect brand for now so that you can focus on more important things. Later when you’re making consistent income, you might invest in some professional copywriting and/or web design.

Your Audience

Starting a mailing list and sending regular newsletters is one of the most important things you can do to grow, and deepen your connection with, your audience. The people who have been to your website and handed over their email address (essentially the keys to their inbox) are amongst your most engaged audience members. So, it’s no surprise that on my list of tech essentials is an email service provider.

Of all the ESPs out there, I hands down recommend Mailchimp. I was once lured away by Convertkit and wasted a lot of time and money making the switch, which I later reversed (more time spent!).

There’s a lot of misinformation out there about Mailchimp and what you can and cannot do with it and once I realised that, I wouldn’t use any other service. My personal Mailchimp Guru is Paul Jarvis, you can read his review of Mailchimp here. His course Chimp Essentials is amazing.

One of the great things about Mailchimp is that it’s free for accounts with up to 2000 contacts, so it’s the perfect choice for beginners and once you’re ready to upgrade, has all the bells and whistles needed for any kind of online business.

Your Schedule

If you have 1:1 or group sessions with people online, I highly recommend that you invest in an online scheduler. Trying to deal with booking calls across time zones and handling reminders, pre and post-call questions or messages manually is a recipe for disaster, believe me I tried it.

Even though, I’m all for keeping your tech simple in the early days of business building, having a scheduler is right up there in my list of tech essentials. My scheduler of choice is Calendly and like most of my favourite tools, I have, over the years. dabbled with other alternatives out there to see if there is anything better but I’ve always come running back to Calendly.

You might not think you need a scheduler if you don’t have online sessions or calls but even if you plan to reach out to people professionally online, I think it’s worth signing up for the free version of Calendly to avoid screwing up appointments and looking unprofessional.

Your To Do List

Oh my, have I tried all of the tools when it comes to task management. If you can name it, I’ve probably tried it. Trello, Todoist, Things, Monday, Wunderlist, Asana, ClickUp, a variety of online planners (mine and other people’s) as well as good old pen and paper. I’m not even kidding. To avoid you going down the same path, I’ll say this…

My favourite tool so far has been Todoist. Inspired by this video from Business Coach, George Kao, I bit the bullet and signed up for the paid version and have it all set up as an app on my Macbook, on my iPhone, in my Gmail and as a Google Chrome Extension. Which basically means that I can add a to do to my task manager from pretty much anywhere and have it all synced up. It’s great but I still find myself reverting to pen and paper when I get super busy and I think it might be awhile before I make the most of everything Todoist can do for me.

Other tools I recommend

A couple of other tools I currently couldn’t live without include:

Google Drive, which I use for all of my storage. I pay for 130 GB and I store most of my documents on there as well as create shared folders for all of my clients so that we can co-work on documents together.

Dubsado, which I use for client onboarding, contracts, invoicing, time tracking and more. I wouldn’t say that this is an essential for beginners but when your business grows, I recommend this as a great tool for client management.

And there you have it my tech essentials for small, service-based, online businesses. I hope this helps to tame the overwhelm. 

Introducing Back to Basics

This affordable, subscription-based service is for business owners early on in their business journey who need a place to get all of their business related questions answered. Click here or the image below to subscribe.

Once a month on the first Thursday of the month, I host a live group call on Zoom for up to 90 minutes to which you can bring any and all of your business questions.

You can ask your questions on the call itself or if you can’t make it, you can send the question ahead of time and watch the recording back for my answer. This is a Q+A format so the content provided by me depends on the questions asked by you.

These Q+A calls are specifically for people who are new to business, new to the doing business in the online space or perhaps you’ve been in a business a while but you just can’t seem to make it work no matter how hard you try.