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The Lightbulb Podcast

Join Guernsey girl, Martine, for a weekly creative chat where she shares resources, actionable ideas and the occasional knowledge bomb (!) This podcast is for artists, makers and creative business owners interested in marketing, social media, business and technology. The Lightbulb Podcast is available to download and subscribe to in iTunes and other podcast directories.
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Aug 18, 2017

The one where I report back on my Squarespace experience, six months later.

Podcast Episode 57 Transcript And Show Notes

Welcome

Hello and welcome to episode 57 of the Lightbulb podcast. Today we're talking Squarespace.

Follow Up

This episode is a follow up to episode 34. If you've not listened to episode 34, then I really recommend you do so. It's called "Moving from Squarespace to Wordpress to Squarespace".

Hacked [Off!]

In episode 34, I explained that I'd been hacked multiple times within the space of a week when I was using Wordpress. Just to be clear, that's Wordpress.org, the self-hosted version of Wordpress.

Honestly, when I recorded that episode six months ago, I was really genuinely stressed. I really felt very upset about my website being hacked, and it genuinely made me a bit panicked.

The first hack was bad enough, but then it happened four more times I seem to remember. By the end of that week, I was ready to move on to something entirely different.

Time to Move

That's when I decided to go back to Squarespace.

Six months later, what's the verdict?

I'm pleased to say I am still in love with Squarespace. I am a massive fan. In fact, I'd go as far to say I love it more now than I did six months ago. I'm going to explain why that is in a moment.

A Warning For Newbies

I just want to reiterate a point I made in episode 34 before I crack on with telling you all the reasons why I love Squarespace.

That is many new bloggers are told by experienced bloggers that Wordpress.org really is the best option for them. In fact, the only option really if you want to be a serious blogger.

This is wrong. This is entirely wrong.

Everytime I see this advice given, and the person asking for the advice is clearly not a technical person, I feel very frustrated. That's why I think it's important to get the message across.

Wordpress is a great platform. I'm a techy person, but I still struggled with this hacking situation.

I want to reiterate the point that Wordpress isn't your only option and that Squarespace is a totally viable choice.

I don't think there's anything wrong with brand new bloggers getting started on a free service like Blogger or Wordpress.com.

But when you feel ready to take things up a level, yes you've got the option of Wordpress.org, but if you're not sufficiently confident on the technical side of things, or you want to use a completely different platform, then I would say go Squarespace.

Okay, back to reasons why I love Squarespace.

Flexibility

Firstly, it is way more flexible than I ever realised. I know this because I've managed to build an entire membership site on it.

The Lightbulb Academy is built on Squarespace. If you want to find out more about the academy, just hop over to thelightbulbacademy.com.

Squarespace has a password-protected page facility, but it's not quite sophisticated enough to accommodate a membership site, so I have used Sentry Login in order to secure the site. I'm really happy with the functionality of The Lightbulb Academy.

I'm going to be launching on the 1st of September, so I'm looking forward to getting some feedback on the site to see if there's anything I need to improve. That's the first reason why I adore Squarespace is you can do virtually anything with it.

Forum

Just to make sure that I'm not totally one sided with my appraisal of Squarespace, there is something missing from it. That is a forum feature.

Now you can use Muut to create a forum on your Squarespace site, but you won't have single sign-on. That means your forum users will need to have a separate Muut account. It's separate to their Squarespace account, so that's not particularly smooth.

I'm really hoping this is something Squarespace improves in the future.

The icing on the cake would be if Squarespace had the capability to do the job that Sentry Login is doing for my membership site. I do believe this is on the cards from what I can see in Squarespace's answers forum.

Password-Protection 

All of that being said, the password protection feature that they do have within Squarespace is definitely good enough for creating a protecting resources area on your site.

This is something I've done as a lead magnet.

When people sign up to my VIP email list, which you can do so at martineellis.com/VIP, they get sent the password for the resources area. That works perfectly well.

Long Sales Pages

I use the Pacific template for my website, and it's definitely one of the best ones. It enables you to have nice long sales pages with different sections.

If you are looking at moving to Squarespace, this is a great template to get started with. Don't be put off by the fact that the sample website is a burger bar, or a restaurant, or something like that. It is a really good template.

Landing Pages

It's also possible to create beautiful landing pages in Squarespace.

I use their cover page function for this. The cover page function is great because it gets rid of your horizontal navigation at the top of your site, and really is all about the words, the images, and a call to action.

I use ConvertKit for my email marketing and I have had to hack around a little bit in order to recreate the lead box style registration field.

If you click on a button on a cover page, what I really want to happen is a box to pop up, and then you put your name and email address in that.

That is not as easy as I'd like it to be in Squarespace. However, I've got a great hack for making that work, and I will link to it in the show notes. It's somebody else's tutorial, it's not my own, but I refer back to it every single time.

Code Injection

You have the option to inject code into areas on your website with Squarespace.

I've done this most recently because I added a Conversion Gorilla bar to my website advertising The Lightbulb Academy. It's so easy to do this.

Building Blocks

Yet another thing I love about Squarespace is the block setup. If you've not used it before, it's worth doing a free trial just to see how the blog setup works.

By this, I mean if you were creating, for example, a blog post, you could have an image block, then underneath that, you have a text block, and you might have a video block.

The whole thing is built on a block basis, and it's so easy to use. You can drag and drop things where you want.

They have a spacer function, so if you want to maybe make a picture look narrower than it's supposed to be you can pop a spacer either side.

It's quite hard to explain all of this audio style. This is the time when I think a video podcast would be much easier, but if you like the idea of Squarespace, please do consider giving it a try.

I am absolutely well and truly in love with it. I don't see myself going back to Wordpress anytime soon.

Icing

I think the icing on the cake for me is that I found I got more comments on my blog posts and podcast episodes with Squarespace than I did with Wordpress.

I'd always been slightly worried about the SEO element of Squarespace, but it seems that that's all working perfectly fine, so I'm super happy with it.

Wrap Up

Okay, that's all for me today.

All that remains to be said is please, please, please hop over to the thelightbulbacademy.com if you are interested in what I'm doing with my membership site.

If you are somebody who has a creative hobby that you want to turn into a business, or you're a blogger and you're really ready to monetize your blog, The Lightbulb Academy is for you.

I'm launching on the 1st of September, 2017. On the sales page at thelightbulbacademy.com you can just pop your name and email address in there and I will send you a note when we're open for business.

Thank you so much for tuning in. I hope you'll join me next week.

Aug 11, 2017

The one where I share ideas for monetising existing content by creating digital products.

Podcast Episode 56 Transcript And Show Notes

Welcome

Hello and welcome to The Lightbulb Podcast. It's so good to be here.

I am back after a week's holiday. This is my first week off the podcast all year, and I had a lovely week. I spent it in Devon and did lots of relaxing, and it was fabulous, but it is, of course, great to be back.

Introduction

Today, I'm going to answer a question that was asked a short while ago in my Facebook group, The Lightbulb Club, and the question is this:

How can I make money online with the bare minimum of effort by monetizing existing content?

What a fantastic question. I'm looking forward to answering that in a moment.

The Lightbulb Academy Update

Before I do, though, I just wanted to give you a quick update on my membership site, The Lightbulb Academy.

I have set a date for launch. You will be seeing and hearing more about The Lightbulb Academy on the 1st of September 2017.

I'll be opening the virtual doors at that point, and I will be accepting a very small number of beta members or founder members at a lower rate than I'll normally charge, and they'll be grandfathered in at that rate.

The idea is that those select few will be my first members, and they will help me test the site, hence the lower fee, and shape what it's going to look like in the future, so it's a really exciting opportunity.

If you'd like to be informed when the doors open, just hop over to TheLightbulbAcademy.com and sign up there, and I'll send you an email, and you will be the first to know.

How Do You Make Money Online With Minimal Effort?

Okay. On to today's episode, how can you make money with minimal effort by monetizing existing content?

Well, this episode is one for the bloggers and content creators really, because, in order to monetize content, you need something out there already. This assumes you've got some content online, or if not online, hidden away somewhere.

Digital Products

The way to do this with minimal effort has to be through digital products. I love digital products, because you make them once, and then you have the opportunity to sell them over and over again, and that sales process can be completely automated.

The effort with the digital product is very much front loaded. Now there is effort involved. I can't pretend that you can make a digital product in your sleep, however, if you're basing your digital product on existing content, all you're really doing is tidying that content up and perhaps adding a little bit to it.

Because the sales process is automated, then there really isn't a huge amount of effort involved.

The Effort is in the Marketing

The only thing you will need to put effort into is letting people know that this product is available to them, so we're looking at marketing.

There's a bit of effort involved in making the product but not much, then you get to plough your efforts into sharing this great product with the world.

I have four digital product ideas for you:

1. Create an Ebook

This works particularly well if you have a series of blog posts or a number of blog posts on the same topic, and you can take that content and compile it easily into an e-book. That works really well.

All you really need to do is make sure that the various posts flow into one another and perhaps package them up with an introduction and a conclusion, and there's your e-book.

2. Create an Online Course

The kind of platforms you might use for this would be Teachable or Thinkific. I've experimented with both of them.

I ended up going with Teachable, but that was only to do with payment platforms and the fact that I live in Guernsey.

I actually was really impressed with Thinkific, and I think they've got a lot to offer.

When you're producing an online course, chances are you're going to want to use video, maybe a PowerPoint or a Keynote presentation, and you might record your voice over the top of those slides.

You don't actually need to show your face on a video for online courses. I think this is a bit of a misconception, and a lot of people, certainly based on the chat in The Lightbulb Club, are a bit nervous about putting their face on video, and I understand that. You don't need to for an online course, you can be slide based.

If you're going to take that approach, I highly recommend ScreenFlow for recording your videos. It is a Mac only product. I'm sure there will be equivalent PC products available.

If you're going to create an online course based on existing content, my top tip for you is to try to appeal to all different learning preferences.

You'll have video in the presentation for the visual learners, and also people how like to learn by listening can benefit from the videos, but also consider having an audio download available for those that want to consume your content as a podcast, maybe on their daily commute.

I would highly recommend getting anything you produce transcribed, so there's a text option, and for transcriptions, I use Rev.com. They're very reasonably priced and very quick with their turnaround as well.

3. Produce Printables

People love printables, particularly if they look nice, and they're something you want to print out over and over again.

People love printables that help with organization.

 

Perhaps you've produced some printables as content upgrades on your blog. If you have, maybe there's a way to package up a variety of printables and sell them as a bundle.

Because you have given them away for free previously, you might want to chuck in a couple of additional printables just to really up the value of your product.

If you're looking for a bit of inspiration, hop on to Pinterest and search for printables, and you'll see the sort of thing that is really popular.

4. Sell Swipe Files

Swipe files are examples of scripts or templates or text for emails, for example, that you could essentially copy and paste and then tweak to make your own.

I'll give you an example. I have always struggled with writing sales pages, so a swipe file of the ideal text for a sales page would be something I would definitely purchase.

I've purchased product in the past that was a huge bundle of swipe files for emails you might send to clients, difficult emails, that sort of thing. There were hundreds of these email templates, and they were absolutely fab, and I've used them on various occasions.

Swipe files take minimal effort, because invariably what you are selling is something that you've created in the past, so you're just packaging them up, tidy them, and you've got a digital product.

Recommended Tools

I can recommend a few tools to help you with your digital product creation.

In terms of selling it, you can use the commerce part of your website if you are a Squarespace user.

Payhip and Gumroad are great for downloadable products. If you're more creative with the type of work you do, then Etsy is also a really good option for digital downloads.

For creating your products, look at Canva, iBooks Author, and Scrivener, I can recommend all three of those. I've already mentioned for your online courses that Teachable and Thinkific are great.

Over to You

I hope this advice has been helpful. If you've never created a digital product before, then go for it. What's the worst that can happen?

If you want more advice, or you want to get some feedback on your ideas, then join The Lightbulb Club, my Facebook group. We're a nice, chatty, friendly bunch and always up for giving some constructive feedback. You can find the Facebook group at thelightbulb.club, just type that into your browser, and you will find us.

Wrap Up

Okay, that's all for me today. Thanks so much for tuning in, and I hope you will join me next week.

Jul 28, 2017

The one where I help you nail that pesky elevator pitch once and for all.

Podcast Episode 55 Transcript And Show Notes

Welcome

Hello, and welcome to Episode 55 of the Lightbulb Podcast. Before we get started, I just have a quick bit of housekeeping for you.

Housekeeping

For the first time this year, I will not be recording a podcast episode next week and this is because I'll be spending the week in Sunny Devon, at least I hope it will be sunny. We're staying with friends and their internet connection is pretty shocking so therefore, I won't be able to record a show.

However, I will be recording Instagram stories while I'm out and about. If you don't already follow me on Instagram, please do so. You'll find me there as martineeellis.

Your Elevator Pitch

To make it up to you though, I promise that this week's episode will be value packed.

This week, we're talking about your elevator pitch.

The reason I've chosen this topic for the show is that we have some fantastic discussion about it in The Lightbulb Club, my free Facebook group.

What Is An Elevator Pitch?

Put simply, it's a quick explanation of who you are, what you do and why you or your business is fabulous. Typically, it would last 30 to 60 seconds. In others words, the time it takes to take an elevator ride.

Now, I don't know about you. Maybe it's a British thing but I tend to refer to an elevator as a lift, but for some reason, your "lift pitch" doesn't sound anywhere near as impressive as your elevator pitch, so we'll go with that.

Why Do You Need An Elevator Pitch?

I'll answer that question with a question. How many times have you been in a situation where somebody has asked you what you do and you've been a bit lost for words?

I'm thinking networking situations, that's where I really struggle.

Also, writing the "About" page on your website can be challenging or if you've done, for example, a guest blog post or a magazine article for someone else in your niche, and you need to provide a very short biography.

Social media profiles too are really tricky to write because invariably you're restricted on the number of characters you can use.

Your elevator pitch, therefore, is all about clarity of message. And ultimately, it will form the foundation of your business plan. It's very important.

Why Is An Elevator Pitch So Hard To Write?

When we discussed elevator pitches in The Lightbulb Club, it became apparent that we all find it really difficult. Why is that?

I suspect it's because most of us are, deep down, a little bit uncomfortable with selling ourselves and that word "pitch" definitely has a sales element, doesn't it?

In addition to this, as business owners, entrepreneurs, whatever you want to call yourself, we typically do more than one thing we're told so often how important it is to niche down. Yes, we may have a specific niche but within that niche, we probably do numerous things.

Even when you think you've nailed your elevator pitch, you know exactly what it is, you're really happy with it. When someone asks you at, say a networking event, what you do, you have to recall it and explain it clearly and concisely and that is not as easy as it sounds.

How Do You Create An Elevator Pitch?

Well, one of the best ways to do it is to find a trusted friend, perhaps your accountability partner. Buy them a coffee and spend 20 minutes or half an hour explaining to them exactly what you do.

Then, ask them to explain it back to you. They're likely to do so without using any jargon and in a clear and concise way.

Make notes on what they say and then use this information as the basis of your elevator pitch.

As always, I've got some top tips for you when you are working on your elevator pitch and I'll share this with you now.

Top Tips For Your Elevator Pitch

My first tip is to focus on the person who is asking you what you do. Don't focus on yourself. Think about how you help them even though this person has asked what you do.

They are the centre of their own universe. It's harsh but true so by telling them how you could help them, you're going to make them way more likely to listen to you.

Another tip is to take into account the audience for your elevator pitch.

If it's somebody talking to you in person, are they a prospective client? If they are, then focus on the benefits of your product or service for them.

If they're not, focus on simply helping them to understand what you do. Even if they're not a potential client, it's still really important that you spend some time on the pitch because they might know someone who could benefit from your service.

Therefore, them understanding precisely what you do is really important. This is one of the reasons why not using industry jargon is essential.

Here's another tip. Your elevator pitch doesn't have to encompass absolutely everything you've done in your career and everything you want to do because it's only supposed to last 30 to 60 seconds.

You simply can't explain your entire CV. Focus on the now and focus on the person or people you're explaining to.

It's a good idea to consider some form of call-to-action in your elevator pitch where appropriate. In a face-to-face scenario, it might be a case of, I know it's old school, but handing over your business card.

If it's on a website, it might be a contact form or something like that. Do think about a call-to-action for your elevator pitch.

Your Elevator Pitch

Now, it's time for you to work on your own elevator pitch.

To help you, I've put together a worksheet which includes a number of formulas. If you'd like to grab this, just to the end of this post and click the button.

As usual, I like to keep things nice and simple, so you'll see my short elevator pitch on the homepage of my website and it goes something like this:

"Teaching artists, makers and creative business owners how to develop their online identity, share their work with the world and sell their stuff."

In an elevator pitch format, this would something like:

"Hello, my name is Martine. I teach artists, makers and creative business owners how to develop their online identity, share their work with the world and sell their stuff."

I'm currently developing my elevator pitch because I'm bringing in a membership site to form part of my offering and the membership site is targeted slightly differently. As soon as The Lightbulb Academy goes live, I'm going to tweak that elevator pitch.

Incidentally, if you are interested in getting your name on the waiting list for the Lightbulb Academy, just hop over to thelightbulbacademy.com.

The formula for my elevator pitch then is, "Hello, I'm [your name] and I help people to [?] so they can [?]"

I replaced "help people" with "teach people" because teaching is a very important part of what I do.

You can expand this formula to explain why what you do is better than the competition so you might add "Unlike the competition, I ..." And explain how you do things differently.

However, just be really careful that you're not getting too focused on yourself. Remember, it's all about the benefits for your prospect.

Check out the worksheet for a number of other formulas you can use. I've shared a variety in totally different formats so you can pick the one that works best for you and your business.

Wrap Up

Okay, I think that's it from me today. I really hope this episode has been helpful.

Feel free to hop into The Lightbulb Club to chat about elevator pitches. If you want some feedback on your pitch, then by all means, share it in the Facebook group and you'll find there's a number of very helpful people willing to give you constructive feedback.

As I mentioned at the start of the episode, there'll be no podcast next week but I will be on Instagram stories so hope over to Instagram and give me a follow and you can keep up to date with my Devon adventure.

Thanks so much for tuning in. I hope you'll join me in the next episode.

GET YOUR FREE WORKSHEET

 

Jul 21, 2017

The one where I help you decide if turning your much-loved hobby into a business is a good idea.

Podcast Episode 54 Transcript and Show Notes

Welcome

Hello and welcome to episode 54 of the Lightbulb podcast. It's so good to have you with me.

Today, we're talking about whether you should turn your hobby into a business.

Pursue Your Passion

If you've ever been on the cusp of a career change, I'm certain someone has said to you at some point, pursue your passion, do what you love.

It sounds like really good advice, doesn't it? Well, it isn't, at least not always.

A lot of people decide to turn their hobbies into a business, not necessarily a full-time career but a business because of this advice. Sometimes, it works beautifully, and sometimes, it doesn't.

I think the reason why it sometimes doesn't work out is that the person in question is avoiding, asking themselves some awkward questions.

Ten Questions

What I want to do with this episode is go ahead and ask those questions.

I've got nine in total. If you're thinking about turning your hobby into a business, then obviously, this episode is for you.

If you already have a business that's grown out of your hobby, this is probably still a really relevant episode for you because you might be starting to feel that perhaps your business isn't going in a direction that works for you, so it might be a good opportunity to pivot. In other words, branch off in a different direction.

I really hope you find these questions helpful. At the end of the episode, I'll tell you about a freebie I've created for you that will also help you with this process.

Question 1

What do you enjoy about your hobby?

If you're making products, for example, is it the process you enjoy or the end result?

This is a relevant question because if you start creating your product as a business, you're going to really have to up your rate of production. Identifying what you like whether it's process and product or both can help you work out whether it's viable.

This is also still a relevant question if what it is you plan to turn into a business is more of a service than a product-based hobby.

Question 2

Do you do your hobby to relax?

This is a related question to question 1 because if you do relax while doing this hobby, chances are when you're doing it to a deadline, you might stop finding the process relaxing.

Conversely, doing lots and lots of your hobby might mean lots and lots of relaxation.

Question 3

Will you still enjoy doing this hobby in 12 months' time?

Essentially, are you in it for the long haul?

Question 4

Are you really good at your hobby?

I mean, really good? Are you excellent? Have you had feedback from someone with knowledge and experience in your area to suggest you are particularly skilled?

This relates really closely to question 5 below.

Question 5

Have people other than friends and family shown a genuine interest in your products or service?

We're ruling out friends and family there because they are, generally speaking, pretty supportive. They are not going to give you the constructive feedback that you will need at this stage of considering launching a business.

You need to work out if there is a market for what it is you plan to offer. In other words, will there be people wanting to part with their hard-earned cash to purchase your products or services?

You might be thinking, "Well, it's a side hustle. It's a part-time business. It doesn't really matter if nobody buys my products or service," but you know what? It does.

If you're going to launch a small creative business, you don't want to launch to crickets. You want to make sales. You want to feel successful. Everybody does.

Question 6

How do you feel about selling your product or service?

This is a tricky one. Sales is really tough.

Generally speaking, people don't like to blow their own trumpets, talk about how fabulous they are or what they're creating is.

But newsflash, when you're selling a product or service, you do have to become comfortable with talking about how great your stuff is. People will need convincing, I'm afraid.

If you're deeply uncomfortable with sales, then maybe starting a business isn't for you.

That being said, you can learn to be better at sales. If you are somebody who loves to learn and is up for a challenge, then I say go for it.

Question 7

Have you done the maths for starting this venture?

In other words, have you worked out your startup and running costs?

You might be thinking, "Martine, this is only a little side hustle. It's not going to cost me anything."

Believe me, it will. You need to sit down and make a spreadsheet or a Google sheet and work this out. It's really important because costs can mount up without you even realising.

Question 8

When are you going to do the work?

The reason I'm asking this question is if, for example, you have a full-time job and perhaps a family or a dog to look after, then it's going to be challenging to find the time to work on this project.

That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, but what I am suggesting is that you will look at your calendar and you block out time to work on your business.

It might be evenings. It might be weekends. You might have a day-off in the week. Whatever it is, it doesn't matter but you absolutely must block out the time to make sure that it's realistic for you to undertake this venture.

Question 9

Can anyone help?

Chances are at some point in this process, you are going to need a helping hand, whether it's helping you create products or helping you with the financial side of things or getting a hand with social media.

Whatever it is, it's really important that you have at least one person around you who is going to be supportive and encouraging. It's good to identify that person at this stage.

I said at the start of the episode, I had nine questions for you but I just remembered another one.

Question 10

Do you love to learn?

If you've never run a business before, then the whole process is going to be incredibly exciting but also quite challenging.

And if you don't have that appetite for learning, chances are you're going to struggle a bit. If you are like me, someone who is mildly obsessed with learning, then you're going to be absolutely fine.

What Now?

Those are your 10 questions.

Now, I really hope that by asking these questions, I'm not shining a negative light on starting your own business from your hobby.

Often, it can be absolutely fantastic, but what I really want you to do is go into the process thoroughly prepared. By answering these questions, you'll have all of the information you need in front of you to make a really educated decision.

I truly hope it's a yes because I love small business, particularly creative business. I'm passionate about it. I hope it's a yes, but if it's a no, then what means is perhaps you still want to start a business but you need to think about a slightly different direction to your hobby.

Freebie 

At the start of the episode, I mentioned a freebie.

I've put all of these questions into a workbook for you because I do think there's enormous power in writing down the answers as opposed to just thinking them.

Hop over to martineellis.com/54 to grab your freebie.

The Lightbulb Club

I'd also highly recommend you join The Lightbulb Club, my private Facebook group because it's a really supportive bunch of people. And if you've got questions about starting your business, I can't think of a better place to ask them.

Wrap Up

Okay, that's all from me today. I really hope you've enjoyed the episode and thank you for listening. I hope you'll tune in next week.

Jul 14, 2017

The one where we demystify search engine optimisation. 

Podcast Episode 53 Transcript and Show Notes

Martine: Hello and welcome to the Lightbulb Podcast. It's Martine here and I have a guest on the show today. I'm joined by Nanouk Van Gennip. Today, we are talking about search engine optimisation. Hello, Nanouk.

Nanouk: Hi, Martine.

Martine: It's so good to have you here. Nanouk and where are you in the world today? Where are you calling from?

Nanouk: Switzerland.

Martine: From Switzerland. You know I've never been to Switzerland. I've always wanted to go though.

Nanouk: It's beautiful, you should go.

Martine: Definitely, I'll put it on the list. Today, we're talking about SEO, search engine optimisation. But before we do, Nanouk, can you tell me a bit about you and your business?

Nanouk: Yes. Well, I have a business together with my husband. He's a web developer and I am an SEO copywriter. First, we worked separately, but then we decided to combine our forces and so we turned it into a business, and we're doing fine. We're doing really great.

Martine: That's brilliant, so working in partnership with your husband. Fantastic. You're an SEO expert. Now, let's pretend for a moment I don't know anything about SEO at all, can you tell me in the simplest terms what is SEO?

Nanouk: Yes, I can. SEO is a term that contains all the techniques to optimise your websites, to rank high in Google or search engines in general but Google. If you want your customers to find your websites, you need to optimise your website for Google so they can find you on the most relevant keywords.

Martine: This is so important because when people are starting a brand new business, some people might think, "Oh, well, I'll put together a website and then people will just find it."

Nanouk: No, no.

Martine: I'm just going to build it and people will find it. It's not quite as simple as that, is it?

Nanouk: No, not anymore. Maybe in the beginning of the internet, but not anymore. There are billions, trillions of websites online that you really need to work for it.

Martine: Yeah, so by using keywords and other strategies and things like that, you can make yourself more visible and that's what we're talking about when we talk about SEO. Excellent. Can you recommend some quick actions or quick tips that bloggers and business owners can do to optimise their websites?

Nanouk: Yes, but before we dive into SEO, there is one thing I always recommend to customers and clients if they want to do a little bit of SEO on their own, is to write for your customers. Those are your people and not Google, so first, start writing for your audience and then for Google, not the other way around.

Martine: That's such a good tip. Actually, I've done a blog post called ... It relates to finding your ideal customer avatar. If you're going to be writing for your customer rather than writing for Google, you need to know exactly who your customer is. I'll make sure I'll link to that post in the show notes because I think it's a really important process to go through with anyone starting a business.

Nanouk: Definitely.

Martine: Who precisely is your ideal customer and like give them a name and occupation and whether they've got children.

Nanouk: Yeah, make up a story.

Martine: Yeah, exactly. That's such a good advice. Make up a story about your ideal customer and then you can be writing for them before you start thinking about Google. I think that's a really good tip.

Nanouk: When I was preparing this podcast, I was thinking about a person I know from my surroundings who was starting a new business and making a new website. And I was thinking, "Okay, what kind of advice would I give her?" I had my avatar, it was a real person and it's helped me with focusing, and it's the same with Google because you want to know which key terms, keywords your audience uses when they enter Google when they have a problem or a question. You want to know which keywords do they enter into Google to find their answer, and then your website will provide that answer and pop up in the top three of Google in theory.

Martine: In theory. I love it. You used the term keywords there and I think that's something that can confuse people sometimes but just to clarify them from what you're saying, keywords are words that people ... If they were looking for some information, they'd go to Google and they would type something. And what they type into the search engine, those are the keywords that we're talking about.

Nanouk: Exactly, yes.

Martine: That makes complete sense.

Nanouk: It's going to be one word like Switzerland, but it can also be a whole sentence, "What to do in Switzerland this summer" for example.

Martine: Your keywords there are going to be things like summer, Switzerland, to do, those sorts of things. Is that right?

Nanouk: Yes. That's exactly right.

Martine: Brilliant. From what you're saying then, if you know who your ideal customer is and you're writing for them, would it not be okay just to put loads of keywords in your text and then hope for the best? Is that the right thing to do?

Nanouk: That could be a strategy but that will take maybe years before you rank high in Google.

Martine: Okay. So, it sounds like there are some other strategies that we can do in order to rank as high as possible in Google. What sort of other things would you recommend?

Nanouk: Well, first, I advise you to target long tail keywords. You might have heard the phrase, long tail, and those are keywords with relatively less search volume. Most often, they have only a little competition and it's therefore easy to rank high.

Martine: That's interesting. These are words that aren't necessarily searched for regularly, but when they are searched for, if you're using them, you will rank highly. Is that what you mean?

Nanouk: Yeah. That's exactly what I mean, and even though the search volume is less, it's better to rank for those because you can rank for them. And short tails, those are keywords with high volumes but they're also highly competitive, most often. For example, if you sell knitting supplies, you can try to rank high for knitting needle but there's a short tail with high search volumes but also with high competition. Well-established websites owned the first page in Google and it's very difficult to beat those. With long tail keywords like best knitting needle or knitting needles for beginners or best knitting needles to use, those are long tails with less search volume but only a little competition and therefore, better to rank for.

Martine: That makes complete sense, and actually what you said about thinking about your customer really comes into play here, doesn't it? Because the person who's doing the searching, if you're thinking about the exact words they're going to use, you can then hit those long tail keywords. That makes lots of sense. Do you know, until this discussion, Nanouk, I have no idea about the difference between short tail and long tail, although I have heard it said several times. This is great. Keep the knowledge bombs going. I love that.

Martine: What else can I do as a person wanting to really boost my SEO?

Nanouk: Well, once you have those keywords, you can analyse them with an SEO tool. I would recommend Keysearch. I'm not a sponsor or something, but it's very easy to use and relatively cheap. That's why I recommend it. Once you have those keywords, you should optimise your blog post and landing pages by putting those keywords in the most important places like your title, your introduction and at least one subheading. And maybe you've heard of the phrase meta description.

Martine: Yes, meta description. Yeah.

Nanouk: Yeah, meta description. When you type something in Google and you got the search results, you see the title, the meta title and a little description underneath it. Well, most often, you can influence what's visible there. And if you put in your most important keywords, then people know this blog post or this website is about the topic that I want to know more about.

Martine: Brilliant. Once you've identified your long tail keywords, if you can include that in the meta description as well as in the other important places you mentioned, then that's going to maximise your chances. That makes complete sense.

Nanouk: Yes, but there's more. Of course, there's more. You should not do the keywords stuffing thing.

Martine: Okay. What do you mean by keywords stuffing?

Nanouk: It means like putting your keywords like hundred times in a blog post or in a page. That doesn't work. Once or maybe twice is enough and then use related keywords, so synonyms, for example, because Google has an advanced algorithm and is smart. Not like a human smart, but like a robot smart. Google understands synonyms and related words.

Martine: In the same vein, Google is also going to notice if you are doing keywords stuffing and they're going to ignore that post. Okay. What else can we do, Nanouk?

Nanouk: Well, it's linked to writing for your audience, that you should write comprehensive blog posts with a lot of information. In recent years, it was sometimes said that you should write for online, short and snappy blog posts because people don't have a lot of time and so, they're in a hurry and they only want to read short websites, short texts. That's not true anymore. Google and your audience, they want answers. If you can provide your audience with the answer they're looking for, then it doesn't matter if it's in hundred words or in a thousand words.

Martine: The length of your blog post, for example, isn't important. What is important is that you are providing value and answers to questions.

Nanouk: Exactly, yes.

Martine: I'm sure that's related to the fact that there is just so much content out there now.

Nanouk: Absolutely.

Martine: Whether it's about SEO or not, in order just to distinguish yourself from the other people around you who were doing something similar, you need to do the answers. Do the value. That does make sense, yeah.

Nanouk: Yeah. You want people to go to your blog post and then leave knowing all the answers they are looking for. Not going back to Google and type in another search term because they have, now, more questions after reading your blog post. That's why my advice to be comprehensive.

Martine: Comprehensive blog posts are definitely what you need to be doing. I suppose and correct me if I'm wrong, if somebody finds your comprehensive blog post, reads it and doesn't have to go anywhere else to find the answers, then that will raise the ranking and then more and more people will be reading that one single blog posts and all of that contributes to getting it to the top.

Nanouk: The algorithm of Google is smart. Google knows when people just stay on your blog post for a long time and then after that just go on do something else on the internet or doing something offline. Yeah, this is called bounce rate and a low bounce rate is very good.

Martine: Right. I have to say if I'm looking for an answer to a question and I find that perfect blog post and it's long and it's got loads of detail, the first thing I do is share it on my Twitter and my Facebook, and I guess all of that helps as well to bring the traffic in.

Nanouk: Absolutely, yes, yes. Social shares should help as well. It's one of the many ranking factors Google uses to decide which websites to put on first search engine result space.

Martine: In order to maximise that situation, I guess it's important to make sure your posts are easy to share.

Nanouk: Yes, easy to share. Yeah, you should definitely put share buttons on your websites.

Martine: We got some excellent tips there. Is there anything else that we can do, Nanouk?

Nanouk: Yeah, but it's more technical.

Martine: Go for it.

Nanouk: But don't be afraid because it's going to be very easy. You should fix your site speeds. When you enter a website, it took ages before it's fully loaded, you will leave after a few seconds. Well, that's going to happen with your website if it's very slow. You not only lose potential customers but also Google uses your site speed as a ranking factor.

Martine: Right, this is really important.

Nanouk: Yeah, but there is a very handy tool. It's called a website gtmetrixs.com and you can enter your domain name, your URL and then you will get a list of recommendations. It's free to improve your site speed. Just go there, put in your website and just see which recommendations you get and then just start working on it.

Martine: I'll make sure there's a link to that page in the show notes as well, Nanouk, so people can have a look at that. I think Google has also got a page speed analyser as well because I've certainly used that in the past but I'll definitely be having a look at this other one. Is there anything else that you would like to recommend to the listeners of the podcast for SEO purposes?

Nanouk: Absolutely. Did you ever hear of the phrase link building? Well, link building is a strategy to collect back links, so other websites linking to your websites. It's a signal to Google that your website contains valuable information. The more back links of high quality, the better.

Martine: For example, if you were to, on your website, put a link to this podcast episode on my website, that would be a back link, wouldn't it?

Nanouk: That will be a back link exactly.

Martine:                Excellent. Then, if all of your friends were so excited that you're on a podcast, they put links to the podcast on their websites as well. That will again be more and more back links?

Nanouk: Absolutely, and that's good. That's a good signal to Google. It's even being said that it's the most important factor Google users to decide which websites to put on number one in Google. So, link building is important.

Martine: I wonder how you go about link building. Do you just email people and ask them to link to you? What would be the best?

Nanouk: That is one strategy but it's not for everyone, just going around asking people for links. I think you should just stay with a few strategies. For once, write very good blog posts because when you offer the best information that is out there, then people will find you in the end and link back to your websites. But before people find you, you need to do something else. Another strategy, for example, is to guest post. It's a very good strategy to get the back links and to increase your audience.

Martine: I think guest blog posting is a great strategy not only for SEO but for all sorts of other things as well. Like you say, a great strategy for SEO and for just generally getting your name out there. If you can find opportunities to guest blog post preferably with websites that are way more popular than your own, then go for it.

Nanouk: Yeah, exactly. You should look for authority websites in your niche, like the websites that are in the top three of Google in your niche. You should go out and ask them if you can write a guest post for them.

Martine: You just got to be confident and not worry about the fact that they ... What's the worst that can happen? They might say no-

Nanouk: They can say no.

Martine: Exactly, and that's not really a big deal, is it?

Nanouk: No, it's not. No, maybe they don't do guest posting or maybe they think you are a too small blog but that's okay because in a few months you're bigger and then you can just ask again and maybe they say yes.

Martine: And if you're nice and approachable and friendly in your sort of email that you pitch to them with, then they'll be nice back I'm certain.

Nanouk: Yeah, exactly. In your pitch, you should give some examples of topics you could discuss in your guest post and you should emphasise the benefits you can offer for the website you want to guest post on in their audience. If you do that in a very friendly way, yeah, they will say yes.

Martine: It's not so much the size of your audience that's as important. It's about whether your audience is really, really engaged with you. If you've got a small audience that listened to everything you've got to say and share it and as opposed to a massive audience who are not engaged, that's more important to have that engagement.

Nanouk: Yeah, it's quality over quantity.

Martine: Definitely, definitely. Okay, is there anything else, Nanouk? We've gone through some amazing, amazing tips there. Have you got anything else for us?

Nanouk: Well, we just discussed guest posting and I think a lot of bloggers and website owners, they find it very challenging to find the time to write blog post, to guest posting and in the meanwhile run their business. I think that in managing your time, you should stop making an unrealistic planning with, for example, wanting to publish two or three posts per week or something. Just slow down and if you can only write three or four posts per month, make it two for your own blog and two guest posts, for example. I think-

Martine: That's a great strategy.

Nanouk: I think in the long run, that works better than writing only for your own website.

Martine: Great tip. I've just written a little note to myself, reach out to some blogs and do some guest posting because I've done guest posting in the past but to be honest, I haven't done it for ages. I've been really concentrating on building up the content on my own blog.

Nanouk: That's good, but many bloggers and website owners have the tendency to just go on and on and on but you already have so much valuable information on your website, you should then go back to old posts, update them and publish. It takes less time than writing new ones and then put some more time in guest posting.

Martine: I'm so doing that. I've written myself a note to go ahead and do that. God, I love doing this podcast, I get all these excellent advice. I'm going to do some updating of all posts and make sure that I'm pushing those out to my social media platforms and then think about who I'd like to talk to about guest blog posting. That's a great suggestion.

Nanouk, thank you so much for such amazing information, it's so useful both to my listeners and to me as well because I've got a to-do list now of things I have to do. Thank you for your time. Tell me where can people find you online?

Nanouk: I have two Dutch websites so maybe that's not so relevant for your audience but I do have an English blog. It's called digitalnomadswithkids.com.

Martine: Amazing, Digital Nomads with Kids?

Nanouk: Yes. It's about traveling full time with kids and living a location-independent lifestyle.

Martine: Lovely. I will make sure there's a link to that on the show notes for anybody who's listening. Thank you, Nanouk. It's been great. Love having you on the show and you're welcome back any time.

Jul 7, 2017

The one where I bust email marketing jargon. 

Podcast Episode 52 Transcript and Show Notes

Welcome

Hello, it's Martine here. Welcome to episode 52 of The Lightbulb Podcast. Today we're talking about one of my favourite topics: email marketing.

You can locate my previous episode about email marketing by clicking the links below:

Today, however, we're focusing on one specific part of email marketing, and that is the content upgrade.

What is a Content Upgrade?

Well, essentially, it's an incentive or a piece of content or value, which is created specifically for a particular blog post or page on a website. Visitors have to opt-in, in other words, give you their email address to receive the content upgrade.

What this means is, you have their email address so you can email them again in the future.

And Lead Magnets?

A content upgrade is sometimes confused with a lead magnet, and there are various descriptions all over the internet to explain the difference between the two. But for me, I very much think of content upgrades as part of a blog post, so they are giving you additional content on top of that blog post.

A lead magnet I think of as a more general opt-in incentive. For example, you might have a general lead magnet on the home page of your website and it could be something like an ebook that relates to the topic of your business.

Whereas a content upgrade would be on just one blog post, or you might use the same content upgrade on similar blog posts, but the blog posts would all cover the same sort of topic, and that content upgrade would do what it says on the tin, it upgrades the content that you have received from the blog post.

Why Should I Use Content Upgrades and Lead Magnets?

Use lead magnets and content upgrades is to build your email list.

I'd highly recommend segmenting your audience according to their interests via your lead magnets and content upgrades.

Segment Your Audience

Now, I use ConvertKit as my email service provider, and I highly recommend them. I've mentioned them a number of times on the show.

But basically, what they allow you to do is, if somebody opts-in to your content upgrade about, for example, email marketing, you can then tag that person as interested in email marketing.

Then later on down the line when you decide to launch an online course all about email marketing, you know that that person has already expressed an interest in this topic. Therefore, you're going to have a much better result if you market specifically to them.

So I really recommend using your content upgrades and lead magnets to segment or tag your audience according to their interests. It's going to make your marketing far more targeted. Now, not all email service providers allow you to do this easily, which is why I am with ConvertKit.

With MailChimp, I think you are able to have separate lists according to interests, which works fine as well. The only downside is, you'll probably find your audience have multiple interests, so if there are multiple lists, you have to pay for those, I think, if you're over 2,000 subscribers.

Ideas for Content Upgrades

Okay, so we know content upgrades are a good idea. But what are you going to create as your content upgrade?

I've had great success using ebooks in the past. However, if you're going to create a free ebook, I don't want you spending months and months and months writing it because ultimately, you're giving it away. So that's not a brilliant use of your time.

If you're going to create an ebook, I recommend taking the content from existing blog posts and then editing it all together so it flows as an ebook.

Some of my most successful content upgrades include resources lists and checklists, they're really very popular.

MY Content Upgrade!

Now, obviously, I'm going to add a content upgrade to this post. But what do you get?

Well, I've already mentioned some ideas for content upgrades to you in this episode. But what I'm providing in my own content upgrade is a list of 20 ideas you can take away to use to create your own content upgrades.

I've also included links to some resources that you might find useful too.

This is a really good example of providing a bigger list as your content upgrade. I've listed already some ideas, but I'm giving you a way bigger list if you subscribe.

I'm being totally transparent here. I'm not trying to be dodgy in the way that I obtain your email address. I want to be totally clear on the strategy behind it, because I think that's why you listen to The Light Bulb podcast, you like the transparency.

Stay Legal

Now, ultimately, from a user perspective, you can sign up for the content upgrade and then unsubscribe straightaway, and that's totally okay.

You know, it's really important if you're producing content upgrades and you're using email marketing in this way, that there's a very easy way recipients can unsubscribe. Because if you don't do that, it's against the law. So it's absolutely essential that unsubscribe button is really clear in your email.

How to Create a Content Upgrade

Right, so you're bursting with ideas, you know exactly the sort of content upgrade you want to create, how do you create it?

Personally, I tend to keep it really simple. If it's a list of resources, for example, I will create that in Google Docs and then I'll download it as a PDF.

If I want to create something a bit more visual, I'll go to Canva. Canva is one of my favorite tools. It's super easy to use and they've got great templates.

I am actually perfectly capable of creating stuff in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, but I just find Canva so much quicker, so I highly recommend it.

Right, that's your brief introduction to content upgrades. I really hope that was helpful.

New Membership Site

In other news, I've got a new venture that I want to tell you about, and I'm really excited about it.

You might be aware that I offer some online courses and resources under the banner of The Lightbulb Academy. I've made a decision to take those resources and courses and place them into a membership site. I'm going to be adding to the courses and resources on a monthly basis in the membership site.

Now, if you've not been part of a membership site before, basically how it works is you pay a small monthly fee, and it is going to be small, I'm going to keep it really affordable, to access exclusive resources and courses and that sort of thing.

There's also generally a live training element, and I'm very much planning to do that. On top of that, there's also going to be a community. Right now I'm experimenting with Slack to see if that will work for the community element of the site.

It's going to be small, exclusive, and incredibly active. So if you are a creative business owner or hobbyist and you are looking to take your business to the next level and maybe really nail your blogging and that sort of thing, then this could well be the community for you.

I'm aiming to launch during early August. So in the meantime, if you are interested in being kept in the loop about what's going on with The Lightbulb Academy, then please hop over to thelightbulbacademy.com and pop your name on my list. That way you're not committing to anything, but what I know is that you might be interested, so I can send you an email when we go live.

If you join the membership early, I will make sure that you are doing so at a heavily discounted price and that that price is what you pay for the rest of the time that you are part of the membership. So there will be an incentive to get in there early.

Wrap Up

OK, I think that's all from me today. I really hope you've enjoyed the episode.

If you want to chat about it, come and join us in The Lightbulb Club. Just go to thelightbulb.club, and we've love to talk to you in there in the free Facebook group. Thanks for listening. I hope you'll join me next week.

***Hop over to my blog to grab this week's freebie***

Jun 30, 2017

The one where I have a natter with Jane Hickman and we share ALL the knowledge bombs

Podcast Episode 51 Transcript

Martine Ellis: Hello, it's Martine here and welcome to episode 51 of the Light bulb Podcast.

I'm really chuffed to be accompanied in today's episode by Jane Hickman.

Rather than tell you all about her, I am going to get her to tell you about herself. So Jane, welcome to the show.

Jane Hickman: Hi Martine. Thanks for inviting me on your podcast. I'm very honoured to be here.

My name is Jane and I'm the owner of a business called Gardening Witch Designs.

I make and sell handmade items for the yarn enthusiast, including project bags, stitch markers and shawl pins.

I live in a very small village in rural Bedfordshire, in the UK with my hubby, my dog, two hens and a large garden.

Martine Ellis: Lovely. And I should point out, one of the reasons that we have come into contact with each other is because, I indeed, am a yarn enthusiast. So I'm probably your ideal customer in some respects.

Jane Hickman: Absolutely. I always have you in mind when I'm making.

So as to my background. I trained as a bio-chemist back in the day and worked in the labs for a few years. And then moved into IT as an analyst/programmer then, a business analyst.

But throughout all that time spent in the techy scientific environment, I'd turn to crafting as my way of unwinding. And I just love making things. And I think my mum gave me the makers' habit. She taught me to sew and knit when I was little. And she was also a great gardener and instilled in me a lifelong love of gardening, although I think her flower arranging gene passed me by somewhat.

And then when I left paid employment some years ago, I took up knitting again with a vengeance. And that led to spinning and crochet and weaving. And obviously, I needed project bags to put my stuff in, and stitch markers, and shawl pins. But there's a limit to the number that you can use, really.

So I'd been toying with the idea of selling stuff for a while, maybe at a local craft fair or online. And then alone came Festiwool in Hitchin in 2014, which was a fibre festival organised by a member of one of my knitting groups that I go to.

So I decided to take the plunge. And I took a stall there in 2014 and sold my wares. And I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Went back the next year and the next year. And I'll be back there again in November this year too.

I also teach spinning on a drop spindle at a local place called the Makers' Cabin in Letchworth in Hartfordshire. And I'll be teaching some knitting classes there later this year as well.

I really love that aspect of being able to pass on my skills to others like my mum did to me. So I'm starting small, but I'm enjoying the challenge of turning my much loved hobby into a business.

Martine Ellis: That's a cracking example of a multi-faceted business already, because you've got the selling of the physical goods, and you've got the teaching element as well. And I just think that's such a great business model particularly in the creative realm. So I'm really glad to hear you're enjoying it and it's going well for you, Jane.

So we are going to talk today about information overwhelm and advice overload, because I think it is something that people listening to this podcast will be very familiar with. Because the internet, quite frankly, when you're starting a business is a really overwhelming place.

Jane, tell me a bit about your experience of that.

Jane Hickman: Gosh, yes. When I first started out, I looked to see what advice was available for starting in business. And there's just so much of it. And the tricky thing was knowing where to start.

I was lucky enough to get on a free small business startup course at a local enterprise centre. And they provided a lot of free seminars and workshops for things like tax advice and social media management and ins and outs of being legal and all that sort of thing. And the free thing was important, because I don't have a heap of money. I certainly didn't when I was first starting out.

So I'm quite a cautious person, I think. I like to thoroughly research something before I jump right in. So I searched the internet and I listened to podcasts. And I sought out business books. And I read blogs.

And there's so much advice out there, but it can all be rather overwhelming.

It's like, who do I listen to? Do I need to read it all? Sometimes the advice is conflicting. And the tone I've found can be very different according to things like, I don't know, the nationality of the content provider or what size of business they're aiming their advice at.

So it was really a question of finding the right style that worked for me. I'm British, so I don't feel comfortable shouting my success from the rooftops. So trumpet blowing kind of approach didn't sit right with me. so I ended up, at times feeling quite despondent and do I need all this stuff really? All at once? Will my business be doomed without it?

Martine Ellis: You're so right there. And actually, I think something that you said about the tone of the content is really important to anyone listening to the show who is actually a content creator, because when you create content for people, one size doesn't fit all. You're not going to appeal to everybody and that's totally and utterly fine.

But from a content consumption perspective, finding the type of content that really speaks to you is pretty hard work. But once you've found it, suddenly lightbulbs start going off, don't they? If you'll pardon the pun.

Jane Hickman: Lightbulbs really do start going off don't they?

Martine Ellis: Absolutely. So you were searching and searching for information. Interesting to hear about the free course, I take it, it was like a government provided type thing that you went to about startups?

Jane Hickman: Yes, it was. It was something that our local council provided.

Martine Ellis: That's so good.

Jane Hickman: Yeah, it was excellent.

Martine Ellis: I'm just thinking if we have equivalents over here in Guernsey. Actually, we have an organisation called Startup Guernsey. So if you're listening to this and thinking, "Oh, I wonder if my government do that." You can only ask. Hopefully, they will.

Jane Hickman: Yes, I would urge people to go and look for that sort of thing. Someone pointed me in that direction. And it was really, really useful.

Martine Ellis: That's good to know. So you're in this situation where you're seeking out information, books, websites, podcasts, all that sort of thing. And there's a lot of it. What do you do next?

Jane Hickman: Well, as I say, I got completely overwhelmed by it, because there's just so many people telling me, possibly the same thing in different ways and the advice was conflicting.

So in terms of the online stuff, eventually, I just dig myself out of the heap of online resources. And I found that I needed to limit myself to a very few key individuals whose style I liked and whose advice made sense. And that said, I'm not just one to follow blindly. It's in my nature, probably from my business analyst days to question everything. So why do you do that? What's the benefit?

I do keep an eye out for what's out there, but I try not to get sucked in to the latest, greatest business strategy.

So what I ended up doing was unsubscribing from a heap of stuff and stopped seeking out all the podcasts and blogs. And I fell back to those that felt right. Just going back to what we said about the style of delivery. The ones that felt right for me. And as you'll guess, the Lightbulb Podcast is a favorite.

Martine Ellis: Yay. Yay.

Jane Hickman: I listened to you when you were the iMake podcast and I've followed you ever since. And it's like you're in my brain sometimes.

Whenever I think I need help with X, Y, Z, up pops a podcast or a blog post on that very topic. It's all a bit spooky sometimes.

Martine Ellis: My work here is done. I'm officially a mind reader. Hurrah. You are clearly my ideal customer avatar as well by the sound of things. Well, that's good to hear.

Jane Hickman: It's all delivered in such a clear, concise way as well without pompoms and cheerleaders and high fives. And it's short and full of knowledge bombs.

Martine Ellis: No unicorns here either, definitely.

Jane Hickman: And The Lightbulb Club Facebook group that you've got is so incredibly supportive and informative. So that's been great. And of course right up there too is Jo Milmine's group. I've listened to and thoroughly enjoyed the Shinybees Podcast for years. And her sense of humor and style is right up my street. So joining her business Facebook group was a no-brainer.

But I must admit I did feel very daunted when I first joined there and saw who was in there. It was quite scary seeing some of the people who were in there, because I am a very small business.

Martine Ellis: And Jo's a friend of the show, so people listening to this podcast, I'm sure, have heard me talk about her before. But she also has a thriving group. And like you say, a wicked sense of humor. And it clearly speaks to you, which is brilliant.

Jane Hickman: Oh it does. And the support's so genuine. It sometimes can be tough love, but I'd rather have that then patronizing, fluffy stuff.

Martine Ellis: Definitely. I agree with that.

Jane Hickman: So it was all about finding trusted resources really and following these, but applying a common sense filter.

Like does the advice fit with what I need or want to do for my business now? If yes, then find out more.

If not, then park it for later. I'm a big fan of lists. I need to write stuff down to get it out of my brain.

Martine Ellis: Definitely. I think that's a great strategy.

So just to recap some of the things that you're saying in terms of advice for listeners then, you're saying, seek out the voices, the advice that speaks to you in a tone and a language that works for you where you are with your business right now. And focus on those.

And then always apply a common sense filter to what you're hearing as well.

That's pretty much what you're saying, isn't it?

Jane Hickman: Absolutely. Yes.

Martine Ellis: Brilliant. Okay, what else have you been doing in terms of streamlining the flow of information that's coming through to you?

Jane Hickman: Well the other thing that I've found really useful was, in real life, finding a local small business owner that I can talk to, bounce ideas off. And it absolutely had to be someone that I trusted.

And I think I came up trumps with my friend Helen, who owns Woolly Chic and has her own line of British yarn from her family's flock.

She lives locally. And every time I meet with her, I just get a real boost. And it's led to some great joint ventures as well. For example, I made fabric bag linings for one of her crochet kits. And I've designed patterns to support her yarn line. And she was the one that introduced me to the owner of the Makers' Cabin where I'm teaching at the moment.

So it just really works out well, the two of us talking together. And I've also got a wonderful accountability partner, which I know you've talked about a lot.

We meet up via Skype and talk through issues with our respective businesses and celebrate and congratulate each other over successes. So that's great.

I think above all, my main strategy, like you say, was to find a small number of trusted resources, to question what I'm hearing and always ask how this latest new thing fits with the aim of my business and the pace at which I can realistically grow. So it's good to step back every now and then and ask, is this what I want to be doing? Is it sustainable for me and those around me?

Martine Ellis: That's an amazing knowledge bomb just there, quite frankly. Going back to your accountability buddies. Just clarify. You've got one that you meet face to face in real life, I like to call it. And you've got one that you speak to on Skype. Is that right? So you've got two.

Jane Hickman: That's right. Yes. Yes.

Martine Ellis: Excellent. I can't emphasize enough the value of surrounding yourself with just a couple of really great accountability partners. One or two, it's a brilliant strategy.

And I have written a blog post. Maybe it was a podcast episode. I can't recall, but I've definitely talked about accountability partners before. And I'll make sure there's a link in the show notes, so you can check out those links as well as links to everything else we're talking about.

I second that recommendation of accountability. I think it's essential.

Jane Hickman: It also gives me support when I'm feeling a little bit overwhelmed, because sometimes I find, I compare myself to other people in a similar area to me. And I never come off well in my own mind. It's just so difficult, because I compare myself to people that are probably not in the same stage of their business. Or they don't have the same aim for their business.

Martine Ellis: I'm sure there's a motivational quote somewhere, which I would probably hate to utter about comparing your start to someone else's middle type thing there.

But I think what you're talking about is very natural. And I think we all do it. And because there are so many people fighting for attention online, you can't help but have your competitor's stuff in your face. So I think that's easy to do. And I'm sure everyone listening has done it at some point, compared themselves to someone else.

Jane Hickman: Yeah. Well my business is small. It's just me. And the financial gain is not make or break in terms of keeping a roof over my head or food on the table. But it has to be sustainable for me and those around me. So I've still got a lot of other things in my life that I want to do. So finding that balance is tricky.

Martine Ellis: Yeah. I think it is. And I think something, that if you are running a small business, that's a really fantastic, amazing thing. And just because it's a small business, doesn't mean that you have to grow it to be an enormous business tomorrow.

You're right. It has to fit into where you are with your life and your interests and your other commitments. And why don't we just take a moment to celebrate the fact that that's an amazing thing.

I think that there are a lot of people online saying, "How to take a small business to a massive business in three easy steps. How to get 10 million subscribers to your email list in about 35 minutes." For starters, that's all nonsense. I just think, whoa, reality check myself. Is this, like you were saying earlier, does this suit where I am in my business now? No it doesn't.

Jane Hickman: Yeah, sometimes it's hard to do that. So I mean, I still take my business very seriously. And I want other people to take it seriously too, because there are some people that knew me before I started out as Gardening Witch Designs and they think I'm just doing this for fun and it's not a proper business.

But I want to run it to the best of my ability. And being as professional as I can.

And I'm proud of what I do and the products I make, but I'm determined that it shouldn't become a source of unsustainable stress as well, because I gave up paid employment when my mental health was suffering badly. So I don't want that to transfer into my own business as well.

Martine Ellis: Oh, that's so true. And I guess there's also a danger. And I'd be interested in your take on this, in terms of taking something which you are passionate about as a creative outlet. So knitting related, yarn related stuff. And then making that into a business.

Is there a danger that that might suck the joy out of the creative stuff. That wasn't very eloquently asked, but do you know what I mean?

Jane Hickman: I know exactly what you mean. And yes, sometimes, I think, "Oh, I've got to sew this thing." Or, "I've got to make that thing." And it's not really sucked the joy out of it yet, but what I have to be careful about is the balance between doing the fun stuff and the making, which is what I set my business up for in the first place, doesn't get overwhelmed by all the behind the scenes stuff, because it's not all just about sitting at the sewing machine and having fun.

There's all the social media, that marketing, the accounting, the tax returns, the keeping it legal. And sometimes I find the balance is slipping a little bit too far to there and away from the making stuff.

So that's when the reality check comes back in again. Is this what I want to do?

Martine Ellis: And I think possibly the balancing the making stuff with the teaching is a win/win situations, because the teaching, probably, I imagine involved totally different skills, emotions all that sort of thing.

So do you find the balance of teaching and making works well for you?

Jane Hickman: It does, actually. And it's always something that I've wanted to do is to pass on skills to others.

And I'm not an extrovert. I'm an introvert. So it frightens the life out of me when I have to deliver a class, but I really enjoy it. And you get such a buzz from teaching other people to do things.

And also, once you've got a class at something, there's an awful lot of work up front getting it sorted out. But then, you can deliver it time and time again. And it gets easier each time if that makes sense.

Martine Ellis: It really does. And I think there's a huge amount of value in pushing yourself outside your comfort zone in that area.

I think that anybody who is passionate about their subject and who is able to communicate clearly what they want from people in their sessions, is able to teach.

I don't think it's something that's reserved for extroverts. In fact, an extroverted teacher really doesn't suit that many people. If you're in a learning environment, you are in a slightly vulnerable situation, because there's something you don't know. And if you've got a teacher who's coming in and bouncing off the walls, that's probably not going to set you up for the best learning experience it is?

Jane Hickman: No, that's true. And it's also, it provides a good counterpoint to sitting at home on your own with your sewing machine or your whatever it is, to actually going out and meeting people.

So that is quite a good balance. It stops you being quite such the creative hermit at home. And it means you actually have to get dressed sometimes as well.

Martine Ellis: Oh, tell me about it. Working from home is a very confusing thing sometimes. What's night wear? What's day wear? Who knows? Excellent.

There's some really valuable stuff in there, Jane. Is there anything that we haven't talked about? I'm conscious we kind of drifted into teaching, but it's such a relevant and important subject to me personally, as well that is great to get that out there.

What else do we need to talk about in terms of managing advice overload and information overwhelm.

Jane Hickman: I think the key things we covered about a small number of trusted resources, question what you hear and match it up against what your aims and goals are.

Martine Ellis: Fantastic. I think that's a great takeaway for the listeners. So Jane, where can we find you online?

Jane Hickman: Okay, well I'm on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. Although I must admit, I very rarely use Twitter. It's mostly to complain about things really.

The best place to get all the links in one place is to go and look at my website, which is www.gardeningwitch-designs.co.uk.  

Jane Hickman: Also, there's a sign up form for my email newsletter if you want to find to more and receive updates about what's going on at Gardening Witch Designs HQ.

Martine Ellis: Jane, it's been an absolute pleasure talking to you today. Thank you very much for coming on the show. I hope it hasn't been too traumatic for you.

Jane Hickman: No. Actually, I've thoroughly enjoyed it. I was very nervous to start with and thank you so much for having me on the podcast.

Martine Ellis: Oh, you're very welcome.

Jun 22, 2017

The one where I practice what I preach.

Podcast Episode 50 Show Notes/Transcript

Hello, hello, and welcome to episode 50, yes, 50, of the podcast. Are you confused yet? I've changed the podcast's name.

The Creative Me Podcast is now called The Lightbulb Podcast.

Why The Name Change?

The reason for the name change is well, I fancied a bit of a change, but also I wanted to bring the podcast under my Lightbulb branding.

You're probably aware by now that I have a free Facebook group called The Lightbulb Club and I offer a couple of online courses under the banner of The Lightbulb Academy. It really seemed to make lots of sense to rename the show The Lightbulb Podcast.

And What About The Intro?

Because of the name change, and because we got to episode 50, I thought I'd try a little bit of new intro music as well, and I rather like this one. What do you think?

Newbie?

If this is your first time listening to the podcast, then I just want to let you know that this episode isn't going to be a traditional, typical episode, because I have a few things I want to catch you up on that are going on behind the scenes. That's not normally what I would do with the show.

If you are a newbie, I really recommend you listen to perhaps a few of the episodes prior to this one.

RSS Feed - No Change

Also, I should let you know if you subscribe to the show, the RSS feed hasn't changed, so that means you don't have to resubscribe, unsubscribe, anything like that. Everything should just run seamlessly.

Most Recent Blog

Okay, so I want to get you caught up on a few things. First things first, I want to ask you if you managed to catch my most recent blog post called "How To Validate Your Online Course, eBook, Or Educational Product Idea".  

This blog post was quite meaty and dealt with something that anybody who is thinking about creating a new product or service really should be considering.

Validate Your Idea

If you've got an idea in your mind for a new product or service, you need to validate your idea. That's what I explain in the blog post.

Validating an idea means you are checking there is a market for your idea, that there's demand, that your idea solves an existing problem or deals with someone's pain points.

This validation process should happen way before you start building your product or designing your service.

I Need To Validate An Idea

I bring this up because I am going to practice what I preach. That's why this episode is called "A Case Study In Validating Your Product Idea."

I'm working on something behind the scenes which I think you will find really interesting, but in order to validate the idea, I need to get some feedback. What I'm working on is this:

Membership Site Idea

I am looking at putting together a membership site for people who have a creative hobby and they'd like to transform it into a business. Not necessarily a full-time business, but they want to make it more than a hobby.

My membership site would have a very low-cost entry point because I'm very realistic that if you are starting from scratch with a business, your budget is minimal, so I would keep the costs low.

The membership site would include live training from me and coaching, online courses, downloadable resources, and probably a forum as well. I'd really like to try and create a real sense of community in there.

The Lightbulb Academy Membership Site

Now, obviously, I think it's a great idea. I would pull it all under the banner of The Lightbulb Academy, and any existing courses that I have and any that I'm working on would go straight into the membership site.

Before I start making this site, though, I need to validate my product idea. See, I really am practising what I preach.

One way I'm doing this is by asking for feedback and the way I'm going to capture this feedback is in the form of a questionnaire. I'd love it if you would take a moment to complete this questionnaire. Here's the link, or click the button below.

Giveaway

As a little incentive, if you complete the questionnaire, you will be entered into a prize draw, and the prizes are rather nice, even if I do say so myself.

The prizes are a book called "Read This If You Want To Be Instagram Famous" and another book called "Blog, Inc."

I have my own personal copies of both of these books and I highly recommend them.

I'm also going to give away a place on my Create A Facebook Group For Your Business course.

The deadline for completing the questionnaire and entering the giveaway will be Friday the 30th of June, 2017.

That's me seriously practising what I preach.

Other Ways To Validate Your Idea

There are, of course, other ways to validate your idea.

If you write a post that relates to your topic and include a content upgrade, those who download the content upgrade are demonstrating an interest in what your subject is about. You could tag them in your email service provider and then contact them at a later date with information about your idea. 

You could research sites like Quora or perhaps in Facebook groups to see what people in your niche are asking questions about, what they need help with. Does your idea relate to those questions?

Perhaps run a webinar or a Facebook Live and see how the interest is there.

You could also, if you have your own community, run some sort of challenge related to your idea. Again, to see who joins.

You could create an email course or a minimum viable product related to your topic to gauge interest, or finally, you could survey your people, which is what I am doing!

Just Do It!

If you are thinking about creating a new product or service, please, please, please, please make sure you validate your idea. I'm doing it, I really recommend that you do exactly the same.

Wrap Up

Okey dokey, I am keeping it short and sweet today, because you know what? I want to go celebrate the fact that we got to episode 50. I'm so excited about the next 50 episodes and the 50 after that. Thanks for being with me on this podcast journey, thanks for listening, and I hope you'll tune in next time.

Freebie

Click the button below to download a workbook that will help you validate your idea.

Access freebie here: martineellis.com/50

Jun 16, 2017

The one where I interview email marketing expert, Meera Kothand, about the buyer's journey. 

Interview Transcript 

You can find the interview transcript at martineellis.com/49.

Jun 8, 2017

The one where I answer a question with nine more questions (and still manage to be helpful!) Honest.

 

 
The one where I answer a question with nine more questions (and still manage to be helpful!) Honest.

Transcript/Show Notes

Hello and welcome to episode 48 of the Creative Me podcast.

Today we are answering the question, why isn't anyone reading my blog?

In order to answer this question for you, I'm going to throw nine questions back at you. Yes, I'm answering a question with nine other questions, but please bear with me.

I think these nine questions will really help you work out why your readership isn't growing. 

Do answer them as honestly as you can. Treat this as an audit of your blog.

1. Do you have a clear niche?

Establishing a niche for your blog is absolutely essential, because if it's not clear what you're blogging about, then people just simply don't know what to expect from you.

They don't know what they're going to get when they turn up on your website.

Think about your blog purpose, in other words, the topics that you blog about. Make sure you are super clear on exactly what that is. Make sure that your reader is really clear on what that is too.

2. Do you know who you are writing for?

To be honest I tend to think of 'niche' as covering what you're writing about and who you are writing for. But we're splitting the two up in this explanation.

Think about your ideal customer avatar. Here's a blog post all about how to find your ICA (includes a downloadable worksheet).

When you go through the ideal customer avatar exercise, go into lots of detail and imagine one person who embodies your ideal reader or your ideal customer.

When I'm thinking about my ideal blog reader, I simply treat them as a customer because it just seems to make more sense to me.

3. Are the images on your blog attractive and compelling?

Check out these blog posts:

4. Is your site mobile responsive?

So many of your readers are going to be looking at your blog on a teeny tiny mobile device.

You need to ensure the user experience is as pleasant as possible. You can test this yourself by just looking at your blog on your own mobile.

If your theme that you've chosen for your blog isn't mobile responsive, you need to research other options that are.

5. Are your blog posts useful? 

Are you helping your reader?

Most people these days read blogs to find the answer to a question or to get inspiration.

With the content that you're creating, are you being really useful or inspirational? If you aren't, you perhaps need to reconsider the types of blog posts and the content that you're creating.

6. Are you posting your content consistently?

When I say consistently, I'm not saying you have to be posting once a week. You could post once a month, you could post once every fortnight, but the key is that consistent pattern of posting.

Whatever posting frequency you choose - stick to it.

The one thing that I can suggest that will really help you keep to a consistent posting schedule is setting up a content calendar. You'll find a template here.

Consistency is really important because again, you want your reader to know what to expect from you.

Also, there is so much content out there, that if you disappear for a few months, you're as good as forgotten about.

I know it's harsh, but it's true. Consistent posting is essential and it will keep people coming back to your blog for more.

7. You're writing all this content, but are you telling people it's actually there?

Are you effectively distributing your content via social media channels?

Are you letting people on your email list know that you've posted something new on your blog?

If you aren't, it's not surprising people aren't reading your blog. You can't just build it and expect people to flock. You need to tell people it's there.

Check out my content distribution diagrams here.

8. Does your website load quickly?

Everyone is in such a hurry these days, particularly when browsing online.

When someone visits your blog, it's absolutely essential that the site loads quickly. If it doesn't, people will get bored and they will leave, it's just a fact, unfortunately.

It's very easy to test the speed of your website using Google's PageSpeed Tools.

9. Are your blog posts littered with grammatical errors?

Now, I don't want to come across as pedantic here, and I absolutely guarantee it, there will be a typo in my show notes, I know there will be.

However, just stop for a moment and think about why we use correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.

The reason we do it is to ensure that what we're writing is easily understood. Therefore, if you litter your blog posts with spelling, grammar and punctuation errors, it's going to be hard to read.

Our job as bloggers is to get our message across as clearly as we possibly can.

You might be listening to this, thinking, Martine, I know what you're saying, but I'm just not great with spelling, punctuation and grammar.

I hear you and I would highly recommend you focus on this as an area for development for yourself, and you work on improving your skills. Personally, I really don't remember being taught a great deal about spelling, punctuation and grammar at school. Spelling maybe, but certainly not punctuation. My punctuation, up until the age of 30 was absolutely appalling. That doesn't mean you can't correct the situation now, that doesn't mean you can't develop your skills further.

Before you publish a blog post, I highly recommend leaving it to rest for 24 hours and then going back to proofread it. Because if you've not looked at the blog post for 24 hours and you read it again, you are more likely to spot any errors.

You could also ask somebody else to proofread your work. That is another really good strategy.

Finally, I recommend investing in Grammarly, it's a fantastic spellchecking tool and it's far superior to standard spell checkers.

Read more in this post.

Let's Chat

Those are my nine questions to help you establish why you aren't growing your blog readership. I really hope that it helped you think about what you can do to improve your blogging.

Of course, if you have any questions, please hop over to my private Facebook group, The Lightbulb Club. There are loads of bloggers in there who would be very happy to help you. I spend perhaps a little bit too much time in there too, so I would love to see you in there.

Wrap Up

Before I go, I just wanted to let you know that I'm attending a blogging event in the UK this weekend, I'm going to Blogtacular.

Do keep an eye out for me on social media, because I will be reporting back on what I'm learning, as often as I can.

Okay, that's it from me today. I really hope you enjoyed the episode and I hope you'll join me next week.

FREEBIE HERE

Jun 2, 2017

The one where I explain the difference between a Facebook Page and Group (while accidentally sharing my love for 90's boy bands).

Show Notes/Transcript

Hello and welcome to episode 47 of the Creative Me podcast.

Today, we're talking about Facebook, specifically the difference between Facebook pages and Facebook groups.

The Lightbulb Club

This question cropped up in my own Facebook group, The Lightbulb Club. If you'd like to join us in The Lightbulb Club, then just go to thelightbulb.club and ask to join and I will ensure you're accepted within 48 hours.

So, what's the difference between a Facebook page and a Facebook group? That's what I'm going to answer in today's episode.

Establishing a Business Presence on Facebook

There are two ways you can establish a presence for your business or business persona on Facebook through a page or a group. We'll talk about pages first.

Facebook Pages

The best way to understand pages is to think about them as a profile page like your own but for a company, brand or public figure. A page is an official presence for an entity.

Whoever is running the page, that's the page administrator, can act as the entity in all ways, so they can post on the page, like other posts, all that sort of thing.

Fans who have liked the page will see the page's post in their newsfeed. Anyone can like a page.

There isn't an approval process required on the part of the administrator so it's very low maintenance.

That being said, administrators can assert a level of control over the type of content that's shared and, if necessary, they can ban followers.

Pages also offer detailed insights into page activity and growth.

Facebook Groups

Groups, on the other hand, tend to be smaller communities interested in a company, brand, public figure or topic whereas a page is an official presence.

Anyone can start a group. Let's use the example of a band. I'm going to go old school and choose New Kids on the Block (showing my age much?)

Fans would like their official page to get regular updates on the band's activities and, just so you know, they are still touring!

However, you might find a local fan has set up a group specifically for fans of NKOTB located in a specific geographic area who want to chat about their music. So, you might have Guernsey NKOTB Fans, for example.

You have more control over the privacy settings with a group. A group can be public, closed or secret.

Group members receive notifications by default when any member posts in the group. They can participate in chats, upload photos to shared albums, collaborate on group documents and they can invite members who are friends to group events.

Facebook groups are all about community.

What Do You Need? A Facebook Page or Group?

The big question is this: what do you need?

There's an easy answer.

I would recommend you have both a page and a group (or groups).

Set up your page as your official business presence. You're probably going to end up using it as a broadcast or announcement channel.

For example, if you have a blog, I recommend you share all of your new blog posts there as they go live.

You will also need a Facebook page for advertising purposes.

Set up a group or groups for community purposes.

Like me, you might just have one group but equally, you could choose to set up groups for training programs you offer, or events, or other aspects of your business. Just be mindful of your workload.

A Word of Warning

Don't forget though, with Facebook, you are building your house on someone else's land so you should absolutely aim to get everyone from your group and your page onto your email list. That's essential.

Is it Still Worth Being On Facebook for Business?

A few people have asked me recently:

"Is it still worth being on Facebook given all the various algorithm changes they've made and how difficult it can be to get your content in front of eyeballs?"

My answer to this is yes, absolutely but do keep abreast of changes that are going on with Facebook so you can react accordingly.

Lately, I've picked up on the fact that quality over quantity seems to be a good approach, and also Facebook is prioritising live video over other different types of content.

If you've not yet had a go with live streaming on Facebook, I highly recommend it. As I've mentioned in previous episodes, I challenged myself to live stream every day for a week. It was a fantastic learning experience. 

What are you waiting for?

It's time to set up your Facebook page and your Facebook group.

Here's how you set up your Facebook page: how to set up a Facebook page.

Setting up a group is a little more nuanced so I've created a freebie for you: a downloadable PDF walking you through every step of setting up a Facebook group. 

Not Convinced?

If you're still not convinced, I can honestly say that setting up a Facebook group, in particular, has been one of the best things I've done for my business.

The people in my group are my ideal customer avatar, so I get a direct line of communication with prospective customers.

Don't get me wrong. When I'm in my group, I'm not selling all the time because that's just going to turn people off and that's not what my group is for.

But, I do get to observe their pain points and their struggles and support them in a variety of different ways. To get yourself in front of prospective customers and the type of people you want to have in your community, a Facebook group is exactly the right way to go.

What About You?

What about you? Have you got a Facebook page and/or a Facebook group? Are you finding things are changing with Facebook at the moment? Are you struggling in any way?

Do let me know. I'd love to hear from you. One of the best ways to talk to me is to join my Facebook group. Bizarrely, you weren't expecting that, were you?

Hop over to thelightbulb.club and that will direct you to the proper Facebook URL. If you ask to join, I will make sure you are approved as soon as possible. Then you'll get to introduce yourself and have a chat in the group.

One of the other great things about being in my Facebook group is you have a direct influence over what I blog and podcast about.

As I mentioned at the start of this episode, it was a direct response to a question that was asked in The Lightbulb Club so that's kind of cool.

Wrap Up

Right. That's all from me today. I hope you've enjoyed today's short and sweet episode and I hope you'll tune in next week. Thanks for listening.

GRAB YOUR FREEBIE

 

May 26, 2017

The one where I ask a difficult question.

Show Notes

My Facebook Group: thelightbulb.club

What is content marketing?

  1. Content: blog posts, newsletter, videos, ebooks, swipe files etc.
  2. Marketing: drawing attention to your product or service.

Sharing free content is a great way to raise awareness of your product and help prospective customers start to know, like and trust you.

People live their lives in weekly cycles.

Are you spending too much time creating content?

Let's chat in The Lightbulb Club.

May 14, 2017

The one where I share my seven top tips for teaching online.

Welcome

Welcome to episode 45 of the Creative Me podcast. Today we're talking about teaching online.

Teaching online covers a whole host of different things, from written and photo tutorials, to online course, to YouTube videos. My tips cover the whole lot!

Seven Top Tips For Teaching Online

  1. Start with the end in mind. What will your learners achieve by the end of your tutorial or video? Set an aim and objectives and where possible, use assessment to check for learning.
  2. Use simple, straightforward language. Explain any industry jargon you might use. Consider supplying a glossary or word bank if you are teaching learners to use new vocabulary. 
  3. Ensure your photography is well lit and appropriately cropped. The same applies to video. If you are using video, your audio quality should be the best you can manage.
  4. Many learners love handouts, printables and workbooks. Canva.com is an amazing free tool for producing images, workbooks and handouts.
  5. Use quizzes or self-assessment methods where possible, so the learner knows if they have achieved what is expected of them.
  6. Be engaging, be motivational, but be yourself.
  7. PLAN PLAN PLAN.

Please note, this is a very brief transcript. To find out more about these top tips, listen to the audio.

Wrap Up

That's all from me today, thanks for listening and I hope you'll tune in next week.

May 12, 2017

The one where I get sucked into the Instagram hashtag rabbit hole.

Welcome

Welcome to episode 44 of the Creative Me podcast. Today we're talking Instagram, or more specifically, Instagram hashtags.

Do you have an Instagram hashtag strategy? Do you even know what an Instagram hashtag strategy is?

Well, you know what? Up until recently, I didn't know what one was, and I definitely didn't have one.

But I have been noticing quite a few people that I follow seem to be using hashtags quite strategically. So, I decided to do a bit of research, implement some changes, assess the results, and then report back.

I've really noticed an improvement to my reach with Instagram through using this approach to hashtags so, of course, I wanted to share it with you.

How Many Hashtags?

Instagram allows you to use up to 30 hashtags per image. I suggest you use all 30, but discreetly. 

Should I Use the Same Hashtags Every Time?

Yes! That said, I do change mine up for motivational quotes, but just a little.

How Can I Hide My Hashtags?

This great video demonstrates the method perfectly:

https://youtu.be/BRfm651uIN4

How Do I Choose Hashtags?

You need to do some research.

If you select hashtags that have millions of images attached to them that hashtag is not helpful in getting additional visibility for your images.

You can research hashtags using the mobile app for Instagram (search/tags).

Type something relevant and start exploring the suggested tags. Also look at other Instagrammers in your niche and see which tags they are using. 

For your 30 tags, pick ones that have at least 4000/5000 posts associated with them, because they are popular.

I wouldn't go over 500,000 - anything bigger than one million and you are not going to get seen.

Where Do I Start?

To start your hashtag research pick words to describe your ideal customer avatar or your business. 

Make a note of the hashtags you chose (download my free printable below for this).

[At this point in the episode I do some live research on hashtags - forgive me but this does not transcribe very well, so you'll just need to listen again.]

How Do I Use My Hashtags?

Type your hashtags (and 5 dots) into the text editor on your device (e.g. notes, Evernote etc). Copy and paste them when you need them.

Or if your mobile device has an auto text function - use that. On iOS you can find 'text replacement' in general settings/keyboard. Note that the 5 dots do not work with this method.

Achieve Inbox Zero

Don't forget to enrol in my free online course before 1 June 2017 (when it will not be free anymore). Enrol here.

Wrap Up

That's it from me today. I hope you enjoyed the episode and I hope you'll tune in next week.

FREE PRINTABLE DOWNLOAD

 

May 5, 2017

The one where I remind you to look after yourself.

Welcome

Welcome to episode 43 of the Creative Me podcast. Today I'm talking about self-care for the self-employed.  

What I'm going to say today isn't anything new. You've heard this all before. But I think it's a really important reminder.

About Me

Let me tell you a bit about me because I think it'll put the reason for this podcast episode into context.

I work half of my week as a lecturer at our local further education college. My job is teaching teachers. I run our initial teacher training programme, and also I train my teaching colleagues to use technology in the classroom.

I work Monday all day, Tuesday afternoon and evening and Wednesday all day.

This means I have Tuesday morning (when I should be resting), as well as Thursday and Friday all day to work on my own business. If I'm honest, I've been working Saturday and Sunday too...

My husband pointed out to me that this is not OK. Hence the reason for this podcast episode.

Here are my top tips for looking after yourself when you are self-employed:

Schedule Rest Time

First up, it's controversial: schedule rest time. Don't work all weekend. Rest is different to sleeping, by the way!

Take Breaks

Schedule short breaks.

If you were working in an office environment, and working for someone other than yourself, you would absolutely make time for breaks: one in the morning, one in the afternoon (either side of a lunch break).

Go Outside

I tend to lose focus around 3 pm, so I walk the dog.

Movement is important, particularly if you sit at a computer all day. It helps focus too.

Plan Your Day Around Your Focus Levels

Planning your day around your most focused time is also a really good strategy for self-care because you maximise the time that you are working.

So, if like me you're way more focused and energetic in the morning, get the bulk of your work done. If you're more of a night owl, flip things round.

As long as you are scheduling breaks and rest time, this can work well.

Water

Drink 2 litres of water a day.

Most of us work in a state of dehydration and dehydration is bad for you. It gives you headaches and can make you feel quite unwell.

If you really don't like drinking plain water infuse your water with fruit or herbs.

MIT Strategy

My final tip is essentially a productivity tip, but it relates to self-care because it's all about not placing too high an expectation on yourself.

Exercise the MIT ("most important task" strategy. Identify your most important task or tasks for the day (3 maximum) and work on these. 

You still need a trusted place for other to-do items (get them out of your head and onto paper or virtual paper). But your day plan should fit on a post-it note!

For the Weekend Side-Hustlers

Get up earlier, work during your commute or sacrifice some Netflix time in the week.

By doing this, you can reclaim so rest time at the weekend and be ready for the following week.

Let's Discuss

If you'd like to discuss this topic more, chat with me and a group of lovely people in The Lightbulb Club.

Achieve Inbox Zero

I'll be raising the price of my (currently free!) online course Achieve Inbox Zero on 1 June 2017. So If you've not done the course, get in there fast. Feel free to tell your friends too.

Apr 28, 2017

The one where Jo and I talk about building a community around your business. Warning: this podcast contains lots of banter and a few mild swears (honestly, that Jo!) Enjoy.

Show Notes

I’d normally do a transcript for podcast show notes. However, it’s a bit tricky when there are two people talking (my dictation software doesn’t like it). Therefore today’s show notes are a bit shorter than normal.

Links and Resources

iMake Podcast

T-Rex on a Trampoline

Podcast Episode 2 Group Hugs Optional

How to Work With an Accountability Partner

Slack

Blog feedback service

The Lightbulb Club (my Facebook group)

Find Jo Online

Shinybees podcast on iTunes

Shinybees website

Business Without the Bollocks Facebook Group

Business Without the Bollocks website

 

JOIN MY ONLINE COURSE "START A FACEBOOK GROUP FOR YOUR BUSINESS"

Apr 21, 2017

The one where I explain why your business needs a Facebook group.

Welcome

Welcome to episode 41 of the Creative Me podcast. Today we're talking about why your business needs a Facebook group.

My Experience of Running a Facebook Group

I set up a Facebook group for my business a couple of months ago and, I'll be honest, I was quite late to the party! It's something that I'd want to do for ages.

I was a member of quite a few Facebook groups, and I could see how good it was for the people who ran those groups. I really wanted what they had.

But fear was holding me back. I knew I had a community out there, but I was a bit scared that if I put this thing up, nobody would join.

I was wrong. The Lightbulb Club is proof.

Starting a Facebook group is the best thing I've ever done for my business.

You can experience this too.

Why Should You Listen to Me?

I am talking to you as somebody who has recently established a group and learnt a heck of a lot about it. As opposed to somebody who has 50,000 group members and actually doesn't really know a great deal about establishing a Facebook group for your business anymore because they've outsourced all elements.

This is a classic example of the person who has recently experienced something and had a degree of success is probably one of the best people to tell you about it (I'm not trying to blow my own trumpet here, honest!)

Why Does Your Business Need a Facebook Group?

Brand Champions

By creating a space where potential customers or potential fans of your brand have access to you for free, you're able to establish a relationship with them. They are able to know, like and trust you.

People only buy from people they know, like and trust, so in a Facebook group, you can really start working on that relationship.

Not all members in your group are going to be prospective customers. But some will be, and let's not lose sight of the fact that you're in business, and in order for a business to be successful you need to make money.

Your group is a great way to create brand champions.

Idea Generation

A Facebook group is also a great place to generate ideas for future content, products and services.

My group is been particularly useful in inspiring me to produce certain types of content. For example, if there is chat in my group about email marketing, I'll blog or podcast about that topic. Or perhaps pop into the group and do a Facebook Live. (Actually, I podcasted about email marketing).

If your Facebook group members are talking about certain pain points, you can help in a non-sleazy, sales-y way.

Market Research

You can conduct market research in your Facebook group, for example, using polls to find out people's opinions. You can also bounce ideas of people.

My group, in particular, is a very supportive group of like-minded people. If you have an idea, I really encourage you to hop into The Lightbulb Club to get feedback.

Just One Tool

It's important not to lose sight of the fact that by building your community on Facebook you're effectively building your house on someone else's land. If Facebook went away one day (case in point MySpace) you lose contact with your group. So, it's really important you funnel your Facebook group members onto your email list.

You own your email list; it's an asset.

I've talked about the importance of having an email list in a couple of previous podcast episodes (episodes 23 and 30)

Go For It!

Don't be put off by my gentle word of warning. In this situation, the benefits far out outweigh that small risk. I'm confident that Facebook can be around for a very long time. I just want you to recognise that:

Your Facebook group is just one tool in a far bigger toolkit for your business.

So, if you've been sitting on the fence about starting a Facebook group for your business I'm here to say go for it!

Start a Facebook Group For Your Business

Also, help is available.

I've just launched an online course called Start a Facebook Group for Your Business.

The course splits into five sections.

  1. Intro: you’ll look at how and why a Facebook group could benefit your business.
  2. Plan: then you’ll make a solid plan for your group including identifying the purpose of your group, setting guidelines and producing appealing graphics and weekly discussion prompts.
  3. Set up: you'll set up your group.
  4. Run: you’ll look at the day-to-day running of the group and explore automation and troubleshooting.
  5. Grow: finally, you’ll explore ways to grow your group and get your group members on your email list, so you can convert them into paying customers.

JOIN "START A FACEBOOK GROUP FOR YOUR BUSINESS"

If you've been sitting on the fence for a while about starting a Facebook group for your business, it's time to get off the fence. Let me help you every step of the way.

Wrap Up

Right, that's all from me today, thanks for listening. I hope you'll tune in next week.

Apr 14, 2017

The one where Amy and I talk (and giggle a lot) about the power of doodling.

Show Notes

I’d normally do a transcript for podcast show notes. However, it’s a bit tricky when there are two people talking (my dictation software doesn’t like it). Therefore today’s show notes are a bit shorter than normal

Links and Resources

Doodle bombing

Pinterest fails

Doodle Revolution by Sunni Brown

Find Amy Online

Ginger Rainbow on Facebook

My Life Scribble on Instagram

Apr 8, 2017

The one where Nadia and I start a difficult but important conversation about dealing with criticism.

Show Notes

I’d normally do a transcript for podcast show notes. However, it’s a bit tricky when there are two people talking (my dictation software doesn’t like it). Therefore today’s show notes are a bit shorter than normal.

Links and Resources

You're not responsible for anyone's actions expressed online or otherwise, but you are responsible for your own.

Find Nadia Online

Apr 1, 2017

The one where I reflect on making a massive career change.

Welcome

Hello and welcome to episode 38 of the Creative Me podcast. Today I'm talking about making a massive career change. This is something that I've done in my career, and I wanted to share my story with you and also explain a few things I took from the experience.

School

Let's rewind quite a few years: I want to give you a picture of 18-year-old Martine.

I completed my A-levels but didn't go to university. I could have gone but, for whatever reason, I didn't. Because all my friends went to uni, I felt I was a bit of a failure.

I'm not insinuating people who don't go to university are a failure - this is not the case at all. I think I felt that way because I saw all of my friends doing it. I felt a bit left behind and that perhaps I hadn't achieved my potential while I was in the school environment.

Off to Work

I joined the working world aged 18 and morphed into this almost unrecognisable overachiever. I was very keen to climb the career ladder as quickly as possible, and I did just that.

Finance Career

Fast forward to my late 20s, and I was working in finance for a trust and company administration firm. We'd created as the offshoot company to deal with property ownership structures, and I got very involved in that part of the business.

I ended up being invited to join the Board of Directors before I reached the age of 30. I was the only female on a board of four men who were all over the age of 40, and it was quite an experience.

Made it

I thought I'd made it that point. I had a good salary. I had a very nice sports car. Things were, on the face of it, great.

I had to travel a lot for my work, which sounds terribly glamorous, but it's not; you only see airports, and you're 'on' 24/7. It's quite exhausting.

It looked as if I was happy and satisfied and I'd achieved everything I'd set out to.

Did My Work Matter?

After a few years, I started questioning my job and whether it was important to me or not. The truth was that deep down; I did not care about my work.

When someone asked me what I did for a living, it was too complicated to explain. And also, I just didn't believe in it.

I got to the point where I realised I had to make a career change. I analysed my career to date and tried to look at themes that flowed through what was quite a varied career, and the one thing that kept coming through my CV was training.

Teacher at Heart

I reflected on this a great deal worked out that in my heart, I'd always wanted to teach. The only reason I didn't take the traditional route into teaching was that I didn't go to university.

In one of my more training orientated jobs, earlier in my career, I did an initial teacher training qualification, but that was it.

Fate?

Now, I'm not a great believer in fate, however, while I was getting to the peak of my dissatisfaction in my finance role, a very odd opportunity presented itself through somebody I knew.

It was a maternity cover position at our local further education college, teaching office administration. A friend of mine who worked at the college she told me about it and I just had this weird gut feeling to go for it.

I applied for the job, and I got it, and I took the position.

It was a huge gamble. It was just a 12-month contract and a huge pay drop. It was a complete leap into the unknown. I was terrified, but I took the leap.

The First Few Weeks

I won't lie to you, the first couple of weeks were horrific.

I started on Monday, and I remember, on Wednesday, sitting in bed with my husband crying my eyes out saying "what have I done?"

But I stuck at it and grew to love it.

After a Year

After a year, the College decided they didn't want to lose me and they made my position permanent.

For a few years after that, I taught in office administration, and it was great.

Within those first few years of teaching I completed my full teacher training qualification, and around that time I became interested in teaching teachers.

Secondment

An opportunity presented itself to do a two-year secondment on a part-time basis at the same college to work with my colleagues to teach them how to use technology in the classroom.

In addition to this, I'd been enjoying teaching the initial teacher training qualification. This felt like a good next step for me. And it was part-time, meaning I could work on developing my OWN business.

What Next?

I'm coming to the end of that two-year secondment now, and I've got some important decisions to make.

But that brings you up-to-date regarding where my career change was and how it came about.

What Did I Learn?

  1. Sometimes you need to take a gamble.
  2. It's a good idea to have savings in the bank when making a massive career change.
  3. Trust your gut.
  4. Your health always comes first.
  5. You spend a lot of your time working - make sure you are doing what you consider to be important work.

What About You?

I'd love your comments on the episode. Pop into The Lightbulb Club for a chat or email me. I'd love to hear from you.

 

Mar 25, 2017

The one where we get stuff done

Welcome

Hello, and welcome to episode 37 of the Creative Me Podcast.

This week I co-hosted my first webinar with the lovely Frank Degenaar (who I have interviewed on the Creative Me podcast before, listen here).

The experience of doing the webinar, and subsequent chats in The Lightbulb Club, highlighted a general feeling amongst busy people that there are not enough hours in the day.

Not Enough Hours in the Day?

How many times have you said that? I say it all the time.

Of course, we all have the same 24 hours, but what's different is that we have different commitments we have to attend to. What's left over is the time you get to spend on perhaps your business or your creative pursuits.

The question is how can we maximise that time?

Are You Setting Yourself Up For Failure?

One of the biggest problems is that we are setting ourselves up to fail.

Does this sound like you? You've completed all of your necessary daily tasks and for the time you've got left you set 12 huge to-do items...

Are you being realistic about the time that you've got to do these tasks? I think probably not.

Many of use have a massive list of to-dos and don't give any consideration to how long each task takes. There is a distinct mismatch between what we are expecting of ourselves and the time that we've got available. We are not being realistic.

Specific and Realistic

When working out how to spend your time, try to be specific and realistic.

Specific: clearly identify what needs to be done and estimate, as accurately as you can, how long each task will take.

Realistic: then, only schedule tasks to fit into the time allowed - be realistic.

If you're giving yourself 10 tasks that take an hour each and you have two hours to do this work then it's just not going to happen!

Most Important Tasks (MITs)

I always operate on an MIT basis. I have trusted place, where I dump everything I need to do at some point (David Allen - Getting Things Done).

I pick my three most important tasks, assuming that those three tasks are specific and realistic, and add them to my whiteboard. In the absence of a whiteboard, I'd use post-it notes or a piece of paper.

Scheduling

If you really want to maximise the time that you've got available you should schedule pretty much every second of that time. You might find the Pomodoro Technique useful for chunking up your time.

Sleep Well, Rise Early

A great way to maximise the hours in your day is to get a decent night's sleep and get up early.

There's nothing like being up at 6 am and cracking on with some work and feeling like you've done something really valuable before anyone in the house is up.

Don't Multi-task

Just don't do it! I explain why in my free ebook, The Quick and Dirty Guide to Getting Stuff Done (click the button below to download it).

Learn to Say No

The final thing I'd really like to leave you with, this is a biggie - learn to say no.

I understand there are certain things you cannot say no too, but equally, there are things you can.

Practice makes perfect.

Wrap Up

Those are my thoughts but I am far more interested in yours.

Are you too hard on yourself? What productivity tools do you use? Perhaps you use the Eisenhower Matrix or the 1-3-5 method - I'd love to know.

Leave a comment below, grab me on social media or drop into The Lightbulb Club and chat.

Thanks for tuning in - I hope you'll tune in next time.

Mar 18, 2017

The one where I explain my process for creating a free email course.

Welcome

Hello and welcome to episode 36. Today we are going to be talking about free email courses. If you've done any research into building your email list, I'm sure you will have come across the strategy of offering a lead magnet.

What is a Lead Magnet?

A lead magnet is something of value which you give away for free to visitors to your website in exchange for their email address. There are all sorts of things you can offer as a lead magnet, for example, a checklist or free ebook.

Another recommended lead magnet is a free email course and that's what we're going to talk about today.

What is an Email Course?

It's an autoresponder if you're familiar with email marketing language.

Basically, someone signs up for your email course via a form on your website and then they get a series of emails, usually daily, over a set period of time, for example, a week or five days.

The emails will contain educational content and typically a number of actions that the recipient is advised to carry out in order to get the most from the educational content.

Is it REALLY a Course?

As a teacher, I have struggled a bit with calling this type of autoresponder a course. It just doesn't feel quite right because a course typically would include a great deal of one-to-one support, feedback and assessment.

That said, I do think the product has a great deal of value, and as such, I have set one up myself.

How to Set Up an Autoresponder

Here's how to set up an autoresponder in Convertkit.

And here's how to do it in Mailchimp.

What I Did

Download the checklist below to access the process I followed to create my email course: martineellis.com/36

My Email Course

If you've like to sign up for my Craft a Better Blog free email course, you can do so here: craftabetterblog.com.

Wrap Up

That's all from me today. If you want to chat more, join The Lightbulb Club or tweet me.

Thanks for listening, I hope you'll tune in next time.

Mar 11, 2017

The one where I have a serious rant about Fiverr's latest advertising campaign.

Welcome

Hello and welcome to episode 35 of the Creative Me podcast. Today's episode is inspired by an advertisement I saw online for Fiverr.

About Fiverr

Fiverr is a "freelance services marketplace for the lean entrepreneur".  You can acquire freelance services from a variety of different people for a very low price. In fact, prices start at five dollars; hence the name.

In the interests of full disclosure, I have used Fiverr the past. I've not purchased anything for just five dollars; I feel deeply uncomfortable with paying so little for professional services. I guess the back of my mind that's always been a slight issue for me in using fiverr.

That being said, the services I have paid for on Fiverr have been great. I've ended up tipping the freelancer on top of the payment that I gave them.

So why am I telling you all of this?

The Advertisement

Well, Fiverr has recently published this awful advertisement:

Source: metro.co.uk

An Unacceptable Message

The underlying message of the advert is this:

The only way to succeed in freelance life, and in business generally, and to be considered a "doer", is to live on coffee and no sleep and spend your every waking hour working. Do that, and you've made it.

Whilst the ad doesn't explicitly say "take drugs as well", I feel it's implied.

This is a bad advert with an appalling message to anybody considering working as a freelancer.

What's more, if you already offer services through Fiverr, and you see this advert, what must you think?

This is an epic brand fail for Fiverr.

A Timely Reminder

The main reason I wanted to bring this to your attention is that it's a timely reminder. As freelancers and business owners, we need to look after ourselves as a priority.

It is very easy to slip into that "work all day and night" mindset. But the truth is, when you do, your output is dramatically affected.

If you want to be successful in your business your brain and body need to be functioning at 100%. Looking after yourself is a business priority. 

Getting Personal

I've had my fair share of health issues over the past 12 months. I've had a back injury which has meant I've been in pain on a daily basis. Recently I've had a minor operation to offer me some pain relief and I'm pleased to report that it's working!

Coupled with that, I've had some food intolerance and sensitivity testing done recently and we suspect that I'm pretty much sensitive to all of the foods that I've been eating of late. For example, gluten, dairy, caffeine... all that good stuff.

Over the past week, I've been on an elimination diet. This is not a permanent thing, by the way. You eliminate potential foods that you are sensitive to and then you gradually bring them back in to see which ones you can tolerate.

I've been on this elimination diet for a week and it's been tough - particularly the caffeine withdrawal.

But today, I feel fantastic! I have been more productive than I've been in months. I've got energy. I don't have any pain. It's an amazing feeling and the impact on my business productivity has been huge.

Takeaways

My message is this:

Your health and well-being is directly related to the success of your business. As such, it needs to be top of the agenda. 

What do you think? Let me know in The Lightbulb Club.

Craft a Better Blog Free Email Course

Before I sign off, I have an opportunity for you.

I've launched a free, five-day email course called Craft a Better Blog (craftabetterblog.com). 

In the course, you will discover your blog's unique voice. You will also explore idea generation and content planning, as well as spelling punctuation and grammar (I know, I know, it's not very sexy but it is essential if you want to craft a better blog).

By the end of the course, you'll be ready to up your blogging game and ultimately write better blog posts.

If you think your blog posts need a bit of work, this might well be the course for you. As it's free, you might as well sign up.

Thanks for listening. 

Mar 3, 2017

The one where I rediscover my love for Squarespace.  

Welcome

Hello and welcome to the show. This is episode 34 of the Creative Me podcast.

The Hack

If you follow me on social media, or indeed, if you're a member of my email list, you'll know that I've been stressing out about my website over the past few weeks because I got hacked. Like, seriously hacked! Not just once, but four times in one week!

It was not a pleasant experience.

My Pre-Hack Website Setup

Let's rewind just a second, though, and I can explain my pre-hack website set up.

Some time ago, I moved my website from Squarespace to WordPress.org. I recorded a podcast episode all about this if you'd like to have a listen (episode 14).

The main reason I decided to move to Wordpress.org was because I plan to run online courses. I wanted the flexibility of hosting the courses myself so I could have total control. Also, Wordpress.org felt like the next logical step.

Here's an explanation of the difference between Wordpress.org and Wordpress.com.

Wordpress.org Seemed Fine

Up until a fortnight ago, I was fairly happy with my choice to move to Wordpress.

I was perhaps spending a little more time maintaining my site that I initially imagined, though. I used many plug-ins so there were regular updates to do. I was also running into some issues with my website running slowly. 

If I am honest, looking back, I was spending more time on my site than I wanted to. Creating content is my priority, but my platform had to be working perfectly for the content to be created and shared. So invariably the website came first. 

Then The Hack Happened

A few people have asked me how I knew my website had been hacked.

Thankfully a couple of my lovely website followers emailed me to let me know. They explained that every time they clicked a button or link on my site, lots of pop-ups appeared. Some of them were hard to get rid of.

The pop-ups were advertising gaming websites, mostly - it could have been worse.

Nevertheless, it was a huge inconvenience and people visiting my site couldn't access what they wanted to. So, I am extremely grateful for those people who took the time to email me to explain something was wrong.

I'd been a bit suspicious earlier that day as the back end of my website was behaving strangely. But I put it out of my mind until I received those emails.

Time to Restore

After that, I got on the phone to my hosting company and we restored an (apparently) clean backup from two weeks ago. I had to recreate a couple of blog posts, which was a pain, but I did it quickly.

I was feeling relaxed and happy and everything was okay.

Then the following day it happened again. Then I think had a clear day and then it happened again. And again... four times in total.

On the fourth hack I decided that enough was enough. I couldn't run a site where I had to do so many additional things to keep it secure. I needed to outsource this! 

I also decided I'd definitely not be hosting my online courses myself - I would be using Teachable

Security Measures 

Just to be completely transparent with you, I did have security measures in place. I have complicated passwords and had a variety of security plug-ins installed. I am not totally naïve when it comes to this sort of thing. But clearly, I wasn't doing enough.

Wordpress Sites Get Hacked - A Lot

I started doing a bit of research and I began to understand that Wordpress sites do get hacked a lot.

I very quickly realised that I needed to outsource the security element to my website. I don't want to spend my time updating plug-ins and all that sort of thing; I want to be producing content.

Should I Go Back to Squarespace?

So, I did a bunch of research. It was clear that Squarespace was the right option.

I purchased an online course called Website in a Box (by Megan Minns and Mariah Coz from Femtrepreneur) to help me build the site I wanted, quickly and easily. I highly recommend this course.

Thanks to the course, I was able to create a website I am thrilled with in a weekend (albeit a long one!)

Looks and Functionality

My Squarespace site looks better than my Wordpress site, and I'd say 95% of the features I had on the old site have been replicated on the new one. I implemented a few hacks to achieve this and I will share those in a separate blog post.

There are just two plug-ins I will miss from Wordpress: Simple Podcast Press and KingSumo (giveaways). However, I plan to retain a basic Wordpress installation for future giveaways so I can still use the KingSumo plugin. 

On Reflection

This has been a massive learning experience. One reflection I had was that a lot of the advice I hear given to newish creative entrepreneurs is to build their site on Wordpress.org. It's easy to use, flexible, safe etc...

Well, I'm a pretty tech-savvy girl and I really had a bit of a struggle with Wordpress.org, so I think advising newish creative entrepreneurs to take that route is not ideal. Granted, not everyone gets hacked, but...

I have always maintained that Squarespace is cracking starting point for anyone, but now I recognise that it isn't just a starting point. I was able to create something that really meets my needs and hopefully will for very long time.

What About You?

Have you ever been hacked? Or have you moved from Squarespace to WordPress to Squarespace like me? What are your thoughts on the subject? I'd love to hear from you.

Pop into The Lightbulb Club for a chat, leave a comment here or email me martine@martineellis.com

Thanks for listening.

Feb 26, 2017

The one where I pick Elna Cain's brain about writing for the web.

Some of the Links Mentioned

Elna's Top Tips for Writing for the Web

  1. Know your audience - who are you writing for? Ask them what they want.
  2. Find your voice - again, remember who you are writing for.
  3. It's not "all about you" - write for your reader. Help them.
  4. Topics that work: "how to" posts, authentic writing (share your mistakes), round-ups and lists. 
  5. Headlines - use power words (eg the worst, genius, hacks, secret) and test them.
  6. SEO - use Pinterest initially for researching keywords.
  7. Make reading your post a nice experience by using clear formatting and white space.
"Don't compare your chapter one to someone else's chapter twenty" - Elna Cain
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