How to market an online course

If you’re planning to create an online course, or even if you’ve already created your online course, you will need to have a robust marketing strategy in place to help you promote it to your target audience.

Before you create your online course

The first strategy really comes into play before you create your course. It’s important to know who you are aiming it at (your target market). So, how do you know this? Think about your ideal client and create a buyer persona.

So, you know who they are and what they do, how old they are, what motivates them and what interests do they have?

Create as many as you need as there may be different types of customers that you have in mind for your course.  

You can refer to these buyer personas when you’re creating your marketing content – it helps to know who your ideal client is, so you can tailor your content specifically to them.

What is your USP (unique selling point)?

Go into Google and look at courses that currently exist, that are based around the subject matter that you want to cover in your course. Make notes of what is included in those courses and how they are presented. Is there anything that they’ve missed? Are there any aspects that they’ve included that you wouldn’t?

Is there anything in the courses of your competitors that you think you could cover better or add more value to? Can you add in extra topics that your competitor doesn’t cover?

Putting a course out there means giving loads of value to the people that sign up. They want it to be jam packed with value, so they know that they’re not wasting their time and money.

Doing this kind of research will lead you to your USP…what is your USP? What is it that you do different to your competitors? What is the one thing that makes your business better than your competitors?

Once you know what that is, you can add it to your marketing messages. And the good thing is that when someone asks you what makes your course so special – or different to XXXX’s course, you have the answer!

Get information up front

Before you start making your course, you need to know if it is something that your audience want! It might be something you want to create, or something you think people will want. But, until you ask them, you don’t really know!

The best way to find this out is to ask! If you have an email list, or an audience on your blog, you can ask them what they’d be interested in learning about – you could send a survey to your email list. You can also ask people on your social media sites, or in the networking groups you belong to. Then create your course around what they want – not what you think they want.

Get to work

Once you know who your audience are and what they want, you can create your course. There’s just a little bit more research to do – what keywords or phrases will people type in to look for your course? You can research similar courses to yours, or you can use a keyword tool to look at the most popular keywords related to your subject. Then you can include those keywords in your title.

Once you are armed with all this information, it’s time to think about preselling your course. You need to treat your online course like a product launch…because basically that’s what it is.

Coming soon!

You want to try and create a buzz around your course, and one way is to create a ‘coming soon’ page. If you treat it the same way that you would treat a new product, you can’t go far wrong by building excitement and a buzz around the launch. You could just do a ‘coming soon’ page on your website, without giving away too much information…just the basic information! Then say that more details will be posted soon.

You can also use your social media pages to start some teaser information about your course. Don’t just talk about yourself and the course though – make sure that you give some valuable information to get your audience’s interest. For example, you could give away a checklist or cheat sheet that is linked to the information in your course.

You could set up a ‘sign up to show your interest’ page, either on your website, or on a hosting site, such as Mailerlite. When someone signs up to show interest, they get your freebie and an email that tells them a little bit more about the course. Then you have their email and can send them more details about the course as they become available.

If you run your own Facebook group, you can promote it there too.

You might send links to interesting articles you’ve found online about similar subjects to yours – you don’t have to just use your own content.

Start a podcast

You could start a podcast to highlight your expertise in your subject and talk about things related to your course material. Podcasts are great for interviews, so if you have done a course before, or have been running a pilot course with a targeted group of people, you could interview one of them to ask what they got from it.

If you do a podcast though, in the same way with anything that you give away, make sure that you don’t use the same information/subject matter that you’ll be using in your course, as they won’t be happy if your online course that they pay for, is the same content as the stuff you’ve been giving away for free!

Connect with your audience via an online webinar

In the same way as you can create a podcast, you can also run regular webinars…or even a one-off online webinar. You can pre-record these and cover some of the things you know that your audience struggles with – and give a solution to some of their pain points. Again, make the subject matter different to the course content you’re creating.

Running these kind of presentations gives your audience an idea of what you’re like to work with. You’ll no doubt get questions, which may give you ideas to include in your online course. It will also give you feedback, which you can use to show the value you give your audience. This all helps give credibility to your business.

Into the launch phase!

Now you’ve done the ‘coming soon’ stuff, which may have gone on for a couple of months or more, now is the time to promote the course date and more details.

You can still use all the things you used pre-launch, such as podcast, social media, your blog, or email newsletter, or even a webinar. Now is the time to ramp up the communications.

Paid Ads

Paid Ads can be an effective way to advertise your online course. Even a simple Facebook post boost can help with this kind of content. You can target them to a specific audience, they don’t have to cost a lot and you can track their success. I can’t specifically say, with hand on heart, that paid Ads are worth it or that they work, as I have never felt the need to use them myself. But it is something I will try when I do decide to create my own online course.

You just have to make sure that you factor in the cost of these Ads, as they can be quite expensive. Just make sure that whichever platform you use for Ads, that it is a platform that your target audience uses.

Team up with others

Another good way to get your course out there is to team up or buddy up with other businesses…preferably not businesses who do the same as you, but those that you know and like – you need to like or be interested in the kind of things your buddy posts in order for this to be successful – otherwise it’s just the same as doing like for like, or follow for follow, which really doesn’t work.

So, ask people who you regularly interact with and agree to like, comment on, and share their posts or stories, as well as doing shout outs to each other.

This helps you, but could also lead to partnerships in the future, especially if the business you partner up with does something that complements your business. They may even be able to be a guest speaker on your course, or be an interviewee on your podcast, blog, or webinar. The possibilities with partnerships is endless.

Teaser Mini Course

Earlier I talked about a teaser on social media for preselling. Another idea would be to create a mini teaser course, just a few weeks before your main course goes live.

This is a free short course that gives people a taste of what you do and the value you give. At the end of the teaser mini course, you can give the option to sign up to your paid course, where they can find out much more and get even more value from you.

The other thing about creating a mini course, is that the audience that sign up will realise how little they actually know about your niche and will be wanting to know more.

Offer a discount

You can also use a discount offer to entice people to sign up. For example, the first three people to sign up get 50% off – or whatever figure you decide to go for.

Create a sales page

You’ve done your ‘coming soon’ page; now it’s time to create your course sales page or landing page. A landing page is a page on your website, or on a hosting site like Mailerlite, that is dedicated to purely selling your online course. This is where you can go to town with advertising what, specifically your course will cover.

Talk about the benefits of the course – what’s in it for your audience? What problems does your course solve? What will your audience go away knowing that they didn’t know before? How will it help them or their business in future?

Include testimonials from those who did your mini course or those who have listened to your podcast, read your blogs, or have commented on your newsletter. You may have feedback from the survey you sent out that you can use. Just remember to always ask permission from the person who gave the feedback if you’re going to use it to advertise your course.

Make sure that the content of your course is really clear, so your audience know exactly what they’re signing up for.

And, don’t forget to include a CTA (call to action), such as a button saying, ‘YES, SIGN ME UP NOW!’ Always make it short and snappy and make it sound urgent, like you mustn’t wait to sign up – do it now!

Passive Income

Courses

Your online course may be a course where you are very hands-on and run individual sessions over a period of weeks or months. However, if you record a course with individual modules, you can put it on an online hosting channel, such as Udemy, which is an online learning platform (a marketplace to sell and buy courses online). You make money on this platform by uploading your course and selling it. It’s a free service for those uploading courses and can help you achieve passive income. It won’t make you millions, but it will help give you credibility and the possibility of a regular passive income.

Students on Udemy generally take courses to improve their job-related skills. I have used it several times for course on various social media channels to help me understand them better. The good thing is that you can upload a course on any subject you can think of. I’ve seen everything from cupcake decorating, to car maintenance, interior design to computer skills. There’s something for everyone and courses start from around £15. I’ve even got courses free of charge and have had some great deals during January sales.

eBooks

As well as making passive income from your online course, you could also write a related eBook and sell it on your website, or even upload it to Amazon or a similar book selling site.

Conclusion

Now it’s time for you to get started! Do your research, do a presale ‘coming soon’ campaign, choose the best strategy for you and just do it!

Let me know if you found this post useful and, as always, if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.  

Small Business Market Trends for 2022

The last couple of years has taken all businesses on one heck of a ride. From being plunged into lockdown with a global pandemic, to the current economic uncertainty, with prices rising and competition fierce.

Every small business out there deserves a huge round of applause for persevering and, in my experience from what I’ve seen on various social media groups, remaining optimistic with a ‘never give up’ attitude.

Over the past couple of years, we have all seen a shift in working from home and lots of new small businesses have sprung up. Some of them from just having more time to work on their hobby…with the realisation it could become more than that.

So, as we start to make our way through 2022, what are the marketing trends going to be this year, that as a small business, you should be aware of?

Online business service

First, the obvious one! Online search traffic has soared since lockdown, with more people than ever shopping online. More people are supporting small businesses, and like the fact they can order gifts for themselves and their loved ones at a very reasonable price, from someone who gives a bespoke, personal service. Reviews I’ve seen from the small businesses I follow all speak of excellent customer service; how the business owner has gone above and beyond to help their customers. This is the kind of service that you don’t get from some of the bigger stores when you order online…it’s more, ‘get your order in and get on with it.’ But a small business will take the time to wrap your order personally, will include a personal note, and will take the time to message you. This all adds to that all important, customer experience; the kind of experience that makes them trust you and come back for more.

Social Media and Instagram

This might seem like another obvious one, but social media is still the best way for you to get your products or services out to your target market.

Facebook is still the leader and continues to be the best platform for small business marketing.

According to https://www.oberlo.ca/blog/facebook-statistics, Facebook has 2.8 billion monthly active users (from 2021 figures). It also has 1.84 billion users that are visiting Facebook daily, using one of Facebook’s core products – Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger. This is quite mind-blowing!

But Instagram is also part of those figures, and whilst Facebook remains the most popular, Instagram is starting to creep up in terms of popularity. According to figures published by theverge.com, fewer young people use Facebook. From 2019-2021, the percentage of teenagers on Facebook fell by 13% and Facebook itself, is projecting that will drop to 45% by 2023. So, Facebook’s average user is getting older.

This is where Instagram comes in. Instagram is experiencing a steady growth and over 70% of their users are under the age of 35. So, what does that mean for you as a small business?

You are missing a trick if your business is not on Instagram as this trend is set to continue into 2022.

OK, I hear you say, ‘but how can I market my business on Instagram?’ I know from experience how daunting it can be to start a new social media channel and know how to make it successful. Overall, the same principles apply, but there are some things you can do to help your business more.

Reputation Marketing

Reputation Marketing is a strategy to use your customer reviews to promote the reputation of your business in creative ways.

Storytelling is a big part of this, sharing stories of the work you’ve done alongside the reviews you get for a particular item. You can share screenshots of reviews or put images of your products with the review as a caption. Reviews are also good for your brand awareness and social proof.

Social proof is becoming a must – it is estimated that 80% of users go to Instagram for help in making decisions on what they buy from local businesses.    

Instagram SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)

Is there even such a thing? Previously Instagram only allowed users to search for content by hashtags, location tags, usernames, and profile names. In late 2020, Instagram put in place Instagram keyword searching. You can take advantage of this in three ways:

  1. You can search for your target audience or customers. It’s great for finding new people to interact with, start conversations, and build relationships with. This does mean you need to know your audience and know what kind of interests they have outside of your brand, so you know what keywords and phrases to search for.
  2. It also helps your ideal customer find you. If you use specific keywords in your captions, keywords that you know your customers will search for, it makes it easier for them to find you.
  3. It’s also great for conducting market research or looking at your competitors. With this search tool, you can look up your competitor’s keywords. You’ll also be able to see if your customers speak about any pain points, which you can help solve with your products or services.

For example, say you are an artist – Sarah Art. Before this came into play, your post would only appear in an Instagram search if you and your customer searched #sarahart, which to be honest, people didn’t really do. Now you and your customers can just search whatever you want, without using a hashtag, and a list of matches will come up.

Google My Business

2022 is the year to get onto Google My Business…. or Google Business Profile as it’s now called. If you are not taking advantage of this free service, you are really missing a trick.

It is owned by Google’s platform and promotes businesses across Google Search and Google Maps. When you search for a local business, you’ll always be pointed to local Google Business Profiles.

The benefits of this are obvious as your business will be more easily found locally. And if you ask your customers to put their reviews on your Google Business Profile, your Google reviews will be online – they won’t be without a Google Business Profile.

According to safaridigital.com ‘near me’ mobile searches increased by 136% in 2021, where people are trying to find local products or businesses. And over 50% of all ‘near me’ searches will result in an offline store visit.

Previously, users had to type in a postcode or town to search for a local business. But today, local SEO Statistics 2022 reveal that the addition of two words can help users find their desired local service.

If you’re not yet on this platform, I wrote a blog post about it in 2021… The Benefits of using Google My Business

Local Service Ads by Google

Local Service Ads allow you to interact with users who search for the services you offer on Google. Your ads will be shown to customers in your location. Your ad will highlight the most important information for customers to choose your business, such as services offered, service area, hours and reviews.

You only pay if potential customers contact you directly from your ad.

I must admit I haven’t used this service yet, but you can get more information here.

Conclusion

  • Don’t forget to continue using Facebook, but also get yourself on Instagram if you haven’t already done so
  • Use reputation marketing and Instagram reviews to engage with your current followers and reach new customers
  • Strategically caption your Instagram posts, as Instagram SEO is set to become huge in 2022
  • Claim and verify your Google Business Profile (previously Google My Business), so you can be found locally more easily
  • Look into Local Services Ads by Google and see if your business qualifies. They are inexpensive and enable small businesses to capture more leads.

If you find anything in this article a big daunting, please feel free to contact me. I offer Marketing Coaching, along with a free discovery call, so will be very happy to speak to you.

How to conduct your small business annual review

If you haven’t already thought about what you want your business to achieve in 2022, now is the time to review the past year, so you can plan for next year.

It’s a bit like having your annual performance review when you work for an employer, only you conduct it on your small business. When you run your own business, you need to keep track of so many things, it’s normal for things to sometimes slide. But as we are getting close to the end of 2021, it’s important to be thinking about what your goals will be for next year and how you’re going to achieve that. But you can’t do that until you know how you’ve done this year.

Your business performance review should cover everything your business has been through over the past 12 months and include your successes as well as those not so successful moments.

Look at your 2021 goals

Did you write down your goals last year? If you did, did you achieve what you set out to do?

This is the time to look at both your short term goals for last year – and the more long-term goals to see where you are. You could ask questions such as:

  • What went well in 2021?
  • What challenges did you face?
  • What didn’t go so well?
  • What did you learn from the things that didn’t go so well?
  • Did you learn any new skills or take any courses?
  • How can you repeat the successes you had for next year?
  • How can you avoid any mistakes you made this year?

If you employ anyone, such as VA, it’s time to have a conversation with them and ask them the same questions. You can brainstorm ideas, give, and receive constructive criticism for improvements and come up with a few good goals for 2022.

Look at your business practices

All of us small business owners offer either a service or products to our customers. This is the time to look at how your business practices are working…and if you are aiming all your sales/content etc. to the right audience.

  • Look at your customers. Do you know what your customers’ pain points are? Do you know what your customers’ needs are?
    Once you know this, you can identify how your business is going to provide solutions.
  • Are you giving your customers a good service? If you set your standards high at the beginning of the year, are you still delivering the same standard of service at the end of the year?
  • Are your products or services good value for money?
  • Look at feedback and reviews from your customers so you can identify what products or services were most popular and why.
    If you can identify why a particular product or service is so popular, you can look at how you can replicate that in 2022.

Look at the financials

We all hate looking at our figures, but it’s important to make financial evaluations to determine where you are…if you’re making a profit etc.

Cash flow is the obvious one. You take money in; you pay money out. Sales and expenses are important to understand how you’ve done this year. Compare your sales and expenses to the previous year and see where there are improvements, or losses. Doing this, you’ll be able to have an idea of what you might be able to do next year.

What do you pay out? All businesses must pay out to buy materials, stock, stationery etc. Are you getting the best deals for those items? Have they increased in price this year? Do you need to take that into account for next year? You might need to raise or lower your prices to compensate.

Look at your business insurance. This is often overlooked. Does it cover you for everything you need to be covered for or do you need to have a conversation with your financial adviser?

Are all your relevant licenses and safety certificates up to date?

Expansion – As your business grows, you may have to think about expansion. Do you need to take on an assistant? Do you need bigger premises? Do you need to have a larger stock to cover your increasing client base?

If you are expanding quickly, now is the time to be thinking about employing an accountant ready for those all important, but pain in the wotsit tax returns.

Look at all your social media data

This might seem obvious, but if you’re on social media, it’s really important to look at all your insights for the year. Here are the areas that are worth looking at:

Engagement – yes, you might be getting loads of ‘likes’ on your content, but does it actually get followers to click on your website, or your profile. And do you get sales from those clicks?

You can use this information to help you look at your marketing strategy for next year.

Location – you can see where your followers are from in your insights. We often assume our most engaged followers are local and buy from us. You might be surprised…and if you find you have a following from another country or area, you can customise your content accordingly.

Feedback/Reviews – You will be able to see if any customers have left reviews or feedback on social media, but what about all the other people you’ve sold to this year. If you haven’t had complaints from them, you can assume that they must have been happy with your product or services. You could send out a survey to ask questions about your products or services. If a customer has bought a specific item, ask them what they liked about it. If you put a clause in the survey to say that you can use comments on your website or for promotion – any complimentary reviews you get, you can use. (I still always check if it’s OK to use anyway, but worth including the wording.)

You could offer an incentive to reply, such a 10% off voucher to use in January. This is a brilliant way to get more replies as people just love getting something for nothing – a freebie or money-off voucher.

Take note of any feedback you get and act upon it. If there is a criticism, ask more questions so you can understand what a problem might be – you may be able to solve it simply and quickly with a tweak to your products or services.

Visibility – Where did your customers find you? Did they discover your business on social media? Did they come across you on a Google Search? Was it a personal referral or something else?

This is useful data as you know which areas to work on and you can see which area works best. Every business is different, so what works well for one, won’t work well for another.

Market analysis   

When you first started in business, did you do a business plan or marketing plan? If you did, you will have conducted research into your ideal market. However, this can change so quickly, so it’s always worth including this in your review.

  • This is where you’ll look at your customers’ needs and how you can best serve them. Have your customers’ needs changed since the last time you looked?
  • Look at your existing customers – what do they like/dislike. Is there something they need that you can supply – or do they have a problem that you can solve?

Check out your competitors

This is always worth doing to see what they are up to and how you can compete.

  • Can you offer something unique, that they don’t offer?
  • Is your customer service up to scratch?
  • Look at why your customers choose you over your competitors and make sure you include something around this advantage in your marketing plan for next year.

Celebrate your successes

The point of doing a review is to find out how your business has done against the plans and goals you set. But it’s also important to celebrate all your hard work. Shout about any wins you’ve had and let your customers know how successful your business has been.

You could share the highlights of your year in a social media post for example. Then also give your audience a little teaser about what’s to come in the New Year.

Your 2022 strategy

Once you have completed your 2021 review and have all the data, you’ll be in a better position to know what works well for your business and what doesn’t.

With this in mind, you can now go on to plan your business and marketing strategy for 2022.

If you have some big or challenging goals you want to aim for, why not think about breaking them down into more manageable chunks?

Good luck with your marketing planning and strategy. If you would like a free marketing strategy workbook, that takes you through your marketing plan, step-by-step, please click on the link below and sign up to my monthly marketing tips email. You will receive your free workbook into your inbox.

As always, if you need any help, please feel free to contact me…my inbox is always open.

What is imposter syndrome and how to beat it

Over the past 12 months, I’ve seen and heard more and more about imposter syndrome. I have experienced it myself – I think we all have – but I didn’t know there was an actual name for it! Once I knew that this was an actual ‘thing,’ I was able to look at it and put it into some sort of perspective.

If you suffer with imposter syndrome, I hope that this blog post helps you.

What is imposter syndrome?

According to Wikipedia, the definition of imposter syndrome is…

“A psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud.’ Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve all they have achieved.”

This might be on the extreme side of imposter syndrome, but I understand the sentiment. It is REAL and everybody has experienced it in one way or another. There are some who feel that their success is due to ‘a stroke of good luck’ or good timing. And it can pop up when you least expect it.

I think for me, it reared its ugly head about a year after I started my own business. I had emigrated to a different country, but I worked online in my own language. I was doing well and had a few clients who I regularly wrote articles or blogs for. Then I started looking at other articles and other peoples’ work online and started to feel that I didn’t measure up. This worried me and I thought that my clients would be thinking ‘who does she think she is?’ I started to doubt my own ability, even though I knew that I was competent and knew what I was talking about! This feeling creeps up on you and dents your confidence.

Does this sound familiar?

How can you deal with imposter syndrome?

I’ve since realised that imposter syndrome is a real thing and can have a devastating effect on you and your business, BUT I also recognise that it is unavoidable. The reason you suffer from it is because you are pushing yourself to do better, pushing your business to grow, and working hard to make a success of what you do.

If I look back to when I started my business in 2013, I knew that I still had a lot to learn, and I knew that I would make mistakes, and that there was a likelihood that I wouldn’t succeed. It wasn’t that I wasn’t going to succeed, it might just be that I wouldn’t get it right the first time…and I didn’t!

But do you know what? That gets better as you progress in your business, and your confidence grows in what you can do.

Now, I feel that I know my business inside out. I know that I can help my clients and that they like and appreciate what I do.    

OK, so there are a couple of things you can do to deal with this monster.

  • Understand that imposter syndrome is a normal feeling to have – you are going to have these feeling when you are growing your business. Try and embrace those feelings. They mean that you are pushing yourself to newer and better things.
  • Take a good look at what you’re doing at the moment – are you doing a good job? Do your clients like what you do? You’ll find that the answer is ‘yes’, so you can then recognise your feelings as those of imposter syndrome and choose to not let it affect you and your business growth.
  • There will be things that you don’t know or that you still need to learn about. Give yourself a break! We can always learn more about what we do. Be honest with yourself about what you do know and don’t concentrate on what you don’t know. Now, I don’t mean that you ignore what you don’t know – of course it’s important to recognise that, so you can continue to grow, but try and focus on the experience you do have and what you’re proud of.
  • Sometimes you just need to let go of being a perfectionist, as this can feed your imposter syndrome tendencies. If you set yourself really high, ‘perfectionist’ standards, you will be putting yourself under a lot of pressure to achieve them. This is when self-doubt can creep in, so try and set yourself standards or goals in chunks that are more achievable.  
  • If you keep a record of your successes, with details of what you did to get there, you can refer to this when you feel that imposter monster looming. Be kind to yourself and celebrate your wins, no matter how big or how small

Imposter Syndrome Survey

Kajabi, an industry-leading knowledge platform has released a first of its kind study on the impact of imposter syndrome on entrepreneurs and small business owners. They recognised that it could keep businesses from reaching their potential and wanted to find out how businesses deal with these feelings.

Over 600 entrepreneurs and small business owners took part. Here are some of the overall findings:

  • 84% of entrepreneurs and small business owners experience imposter syndrome
  • Male entrepreneurs tend to experience more intense feelings of imposter syndrome compared to women.
  • Many entrepreneurs are worried about being ‘found out’ for lack of knowledge or ability
  • Some business owners felt that their success was due to luck.
  • Small business owners tend to compare themselves to and feel less intelligent than those around them.
  • After being recognised for an achievement, many entrepreneurs doubt they can repeat their successes.
  • Many entrepreneurs tend to discount the importance of their work.
  • Many of the respondents are disappointed in their current accomplishments and think they should have done more by now.

Orlando Baeza, CMO of Kajabi commented, “Imposter syndrome can be such a heavy subject and barrier to success for many people. And since it’s perceived as taboo by many, people dealing with imposter syndrome simply don’t feel comfortable talking about their struggles with it.

The biggest downside is feeling isolated and as though you don’t have a community to turn to or resources for how to move past it.”

Kajabi observed that imposter syndrome can be a real barrier for small business professionals, especially those who take big risks in the name of pursuing their dreams.

If you’re interested in reading the fully survey results, you can go to their website

Conclusion

We all know that imposter syndrome exists. We know what it feels like and that we are not the only ones who suffer from it.

I hope that now you understand a bit more about it, that you can recognise it for what it is and learn ways to deal with it, and to not let it rule the roost.

How to tell a good story for your business

We see stories wherever we look, and the bigger corporates have understood the benefits of telling their story for years, as part of their marketing strategy. As a small business, we often forget about this little gem. But it really helps us connect with our audiences and instill trust.

Stories help us understand the world around us. They are a way to help your audience understand more about you, without being overwhelmed by the details about your products. They help show the ‘authentic you,’ so that your customers will be more interested in what you have to say about your products.

Why should you tell your story?

By nature, people are nosy and curious – they like to know about the person they are buying from.

Marketing your business is a real challenge in today’s online world, and there is so much competition, so you need to be able to stand out in the crowd.

Storytelling creates a fabulous connection with your audience. Sharing your experiences helps to encourage and help others and brings your brand to life. It conveys the purpose of your business and what you stand for and helps make your products more appealing.

Content marketing

Content marketing is what helps you to sell your products. You need to release the magic that you put into your products, be it artwork, crafts, photography etc. You are creating a story around you and around your work.

It’s an incredibly competitive out there, so your unique storytelling is what will set you apart from your peers. You might think, if your products are very visual (such as paintings or photography) that your pictures will sell themselves – surely, if people like what you do, they will buy it. Of course, this may be true for a small percentage of your audience. They will see something that resonates with them, or you may sell something that they are particularly looking for and have searched for. But sadly, when people are looking online, it’s easy to scroll past something that would actually resonate with them if they knew more about it…and about you. This is where the importance of storytelling comes in. People remember stories, you want to convince them to love your work as much as you do. They need to feel your passion and understand the reasons why you do what you do – this creates a real connection between you and your audience.

Know your audience

The first thing to think about is your audience. Do you know who your target audience are? I’m not going to go into detail about how to identify your target audience and building a buyer persona, but if you click on these links, you can see previous blog posts where I have gone into detail about this.

How to identify your target audience

How to create your buyer persona

It’s really important to know your audience, so you know how to approach them and what kind of content will make them look at your products.

How to tell your story – the monomyth

There are lots of ways to tell your story. In this blog, I’m going to look at the Monomyth, which is just one concept.

Joseph Campbell, an American author, who worked on mythology produced the idea of the Monomyth.

He said that most myths contain some common elements – heroes start out as lowly mortals; they receive some sort of call to adventure and divine assistance to get started. They encounter obstacles along the way, go through a transformation and return to where they started as a hero, changed for the better in most cases.

An example

I’m going to use Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ as an example.

Bilbo Baggins was just a normal hobbit, with a peaceful life, living in the rural Shire. One day, the wizard, Gandalf, calls on him to persuade him to join Thorin and his twelve dwarves to recover their stolen treasure, which is being guarded by the dragon, Smaug.

So, although he initially resisted, Bilbo embarks on a fantastic adventure, where he stares death in the face and returns a stronger, wiser hobbit, and is the hero of the story.

When you are telling your story, the Monomyth is a great way to structure it. If you do this well, you will get and keep your audience’s attention. There are lots of people who have different concepts about the Monomyth, but I like the remarkably simple version and its structure.

The Monomyth

Let’s start at the beginning…your calling

Like Bilbo Baggins, at some point you felt the calling to do what you do. It might have been a slow realisation that your hobby could be more than just a passing interest. It might be that it’s been a lifelong passion that you felt you could no longer ignore. It could be that you express your beliefs and interests through your work and that you’re getting a message out there.

Whatever it is that brought you to where you are today – these are the things you should use to introduce yourself to your audience.

Talk about what inspires you…is there a meaning or reason behind what you do?

The idea for this part of the Monomyth is to excite and enthuse your audience. You might feel that your reasoning behind what you do is quite mundane, but to your followers, it will be interesting.

The obstacles

The next part of the Monomyth is the obstacles.

  • People love to hear how you overcome obstacles or opposition
  • Your audience what to talk to you and hear about your processes – for example, if you make something or paint, how do you start on a new piece? People love to see a work in progress too, so showing the process in a step-by-step series of posts is a great idea to engage your audience.
  • Talk about the difficulties and how you overcame them.

Good old Bilbo faced danger and adversity to fulfil his mission. What were the obstacles that you faced? You may not have had a great tragedy in your life, (I hope you haven’t), but everyone, no matter what they do, meets adversity or resistance at some point when creating their work.

Some ideas might be…

  • Dealing with health issues
  • Figuring out how to make or do something that was very technically challenging
  • Coming up with funding – how do you fund what you do?
  • Struggling to communicate what is really happening behind what you do
  • Struggling against a system that puts you at a financial disadvantage

For example, we’ve been experiencing one of the worst global pandemics in years and the world basically shut down. How did that affect you and your business? I know it had an affect on my business and on the businesses of several friends.

Did anything you have experienced during lockdown, or during the pandemic, that inspired you and your work?

You might have a story about going into a dark place, where you really struggled to do anything. How did you cope with that? What did you do to pull yourself out of the abyss? I know this sounds a bit dramatic…but you get the picture.

Emerging triumphant

At some time or other, when you are in a creative mode, frantically getting everything down or done that you can, you emerge from your whirl of creativity. This is where you want to sell your products.

It could be that you have an online shop, a physical location, or sell on social media. However, you do it, this is the time to start asking for a sale, via advertising or posting about your actual products.

Make sure that you use a good product description to help your sales.

The returning hero/heroine

Finally, you have success, and like Bilbo Baggins, you are the hero/heroine of the story. When you sell something, share your victories with your friends and family – no matter how big or small. Celebrate your wins! Write about it on social media, on your website or in your blog or email. Be proud of what you’ve achieved…and don’t forget to thank your audience.

You’ve worked hard to get that achievement and you need to show your passion and excitement for your success.

Conclusion

That’s the Monomyth – in a nutshell! It is just one way to tell your story, but it works well as a structure and can give you something to aim for. Put yourself at the centre of your story and share your journey.

Your audience will love to see you progress and will enjoy celebrating your wins with you. Storytelling is a great way to develop your personal brand and to portray the ‘real you’ to your audience. Good luck!

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Writing great product descriptions

A well thought out and written product description can be very powerful. It can move your customers to buy from you, or at least make them sit up and take notice of your products. Having a great product description is as important as having fabulous images or an amazing website. Your descriptions contribute to your customers’ experience and also contributes to the credibility of your online shop or products.

The most common mistake that most people make is that they simply describe their products, as in what it is. This leaves your audience a bit flat – they can see what it is you’re selling. They want to understand the unique value proposition of your product, or how it gives a solution to a problem they have.

What makes a good product description?

An effective description describes the features and benefits of your product to your customer. The aim of your description is to provide the customer with information that compels them to want to buy it immediately.

This involves writing persuasive copy and answering these questions…

  • What problem does your product solve?
  • What do your customers gain from using your product?
  • What separates your products from others on the market?

You also need to think about SEO, (search engine optimisation), such as relevant keywords that you think your customers will use when searching for products like yours. If you get the right keywords, you’ll get more visitors …and more sales. Google will then recognise that you’re getting lots of visitors and so your online shop or website will rank higher.

The three rules to selling online

There are three basic rules to selling online…

People don’t like to be ‘sold to,’ they like to buy. If they are being sold to, then the seller is in control – if they choose to buy, they are in control. So, what you need to do is tempt your audience by solving a problem or helping them achieve a goal.

Appeal to their emotions, so they WANT to buy your products. I’m sure you’ll have heard the acronym, FOMO – the fear of missing out. This is a good example of appealing to people’s emotions. It’s not one that I’m particularly comfortable with – a good example is phone companies – they use this tactic to encourage us to buy the latest mobile phone, with all the latest technology and gadgets. The truth is, the phone you have is probably good enough for what you want, but they make you WANT to have the newer version.

You don’t have to use this hard-hitting tactic. You can use your copy to highlight the problems that your audience faces and how your product solves that. Make them feel good about the solution.

Your customers will want to have a logical reason or a rationale for buying your product – not just the emotional one. This is where your product specifications or good customer service comes in. This alone won’t sell your product, but it helps your customer feel good about the decision to buy from you.

If you think about the ads you see on TV…for fast food delivery for example. They tempt their audience in with the kind of food they know their target audience likes. They tell them that whenever they fancy a particular meal, they can get it immediately. They don’t have to go out in the cold, drive to the shop, queue for ages whilst their food is prepared, then get it home without the food getting cold. NO, you can order and have it delivered, hot and ready to eat – in your own home, on your sofa, in front of your TV.

We all know that this is more expensive, but we do it anyway, because the adverts make you WANT to.

Once they’ve set the scene, you have the specifications – what food is available, what side orders you can have, what drinks you can order, and even desserts. And you’re given the website address to order it from.

OK, I’ll give you some examples for the smaller businesses.

Jane is an artist. She sells her artwork in the form of one-off original paintings.

What will tempt her target audience? What problem is she solving for them?

Buying original artwork is an emotional buy. Your audience need to feel a connection to it – it needs to speak to them. Whether you sell landscapes or wild seascapes, wildlife, or flowers, you need to know your audience and what makes them tick.

If your artwork is one of a kind, your audience may be drawn to that because no one else will own that same painting. It makes them feel unique and valued, especially if you do commissions, so they can ask for what they want.

If you do pet or family portraits, emotion plays a big part in the decision to buy an original.

It might be that you have regular buyers who just love your work and are building a collection. They will want your latest creation as it will complete their collection.

If you paint pictures of a particular place, such as a beach that has a popular feature, or a castle that people can book for a wedding, the emotion to sell here is that they can have a little piece of a memory they have of that place hanging on their wall. They may have childhood memories of that beach that they want to capture forever in their home.

Once you know what the emotional part is, you can connect with your potential buyers by selling the benefits, for example, the feeling the painting evokes, such as joy from a memory of childhood.

The features would be the size of the painting and the materials you use to create it. You need to weave these together.

Let’s take the beach example – the feature in the painting is a lighthouse. I come from Burnham on Sea in Somerset, where there is a lighthouse on nine legs, so I’m going to use that – it reminds me of my childhood and walking the family dog with my Mum, come rain or shine.

Example 1

Burnham on Sea beach with lighthouse.

38cm X 55cm

£30

Example 2

Burnham on Sea beach, featuring the famous lighthouse.

If you have ever holidayed in this popular West Country seaside resort, you couldn’t fail to notice the iconic 36 feet high, white wooden lighthouse, which stands on nine vertical pillars.

If you’ve walked the short distance from the pier to the lighthouse, this painting will bring back many peaceful memories of this regal, yet tranquil setting; the slight breeze with the taste of salt in the air, the sea rolling gently in, and the soft, yellow sand underfoot.

This oil on canvas, is just £30 and measures 38cm X 55cm.

OK, so I know I’ve gone a bit over the top with my description, but you get the idea – paint a picture of your painting with words to entice your buyers in. Spark their imagination – help stimulate their senses.

Let’s have a look at a different example…

Alice makes jewellery. She uses silver wire to make her pieces and incorporates gemstones with the silver.

Example 1

Silver and amethyst gemstone ring.

£10.99 plus postage.

Select your size from the dropdown box.

Example 2

Hand crafted delicate, silver ring, adorned with a stunning purple amethyst quartz gemstone. The spiritual meaning of amethyst is healing, tranquillity and calm. Amethyst has been used throughout history to expel feelings of anger, frustration, or fury from your body.

It is also the traditional gift for the 33rd wedding anniversary. The colour purple has been linked with nobility and is a regal colour, so it has that certain luxurious quality.

Available in many different sizes, this ring is £10.99 plus postage. A little bit of luxury without breaking the bank.

Again, I may have over-exaggerated the description to get my point across, but I hope you now have a better understanding and I hope this article has given you some clarity about how to write a good product description.

As always, if you have any questions, please feel free to drop me an email or message on social media.

Next time

As well as describing your product on your online shop or website, you should also use social media to point your audience to your website. On social media, you could talk more about your journey or story. How did you come to paint or make jewellery? What inspired you to start? Why do you use the material you use?

Storytelling will be the subject of my next blog, so hope you will tune in next time!

In the meantime, you could subscribe to my monthly email, which gives you valuable tips for marketing your small business, as well as ‘member only’ access to lots of free marketing resources to help you with your marketing.

5 reasons why it’s important to share your story

The past couple of years have been tough. The pandemic saw, and is still seeing, so many businesses struggling to keep going, and people having to be at home, so mental health issues have rocketed. Whether this applies to you or not, we are all struggling with one thing or another. But there aren’t many people who stand up and speak about their struggles.

I think it’s because of that age-old thing of ‘stiff upper lip’ – you just don’t talk about it. It could be that we are afraid of being judged, or afraid of rejection…or just simply feel ashamed.

However, I don’t know anyone who doesn’t enjoy a good story, be it personal, emotional, funny, or otherwise. I loved listening to my dad tell me stories of when he was a young soldier in World War II – he used to tell us more about the funny side when we were young, but as we grew up, we heard some of the harder side of his experiences. Telling a story helps our audience to put themselves in our shoes – it appeals to our emotions and our sense of empathy.

We all know about pitching our products and we can do that until we’re blue in the face, but your audience won’t really care unless you give them a good reason to listen. Placing your product at the centre of a story, showing them how it can benefit their lives, not only helps your audience understand more about your product, but it also gives you an extra layer of emotion that makes you stand out more on social media.

Social Media

Most of us are on our phones or devices the minute we wake up, checking messages, emails or just scrolling through posts. It’s often the first thing we do when we wake up and the last thing we do before we go to bed. For those of us in business, our social media account posts are carefully planned and crafted to appeal to our target audience. And even that can be daunting – we worry whether our posts are good enough – will they appeal to the right people? Will people think that they’re rubbish? We compare ourselves to others and fear and doubt can even creep in with our businesses.

We also tend to only share the good things, such as cheery pictures of nights out, a lovely meal, family time – all smiling, date night with our partners etc. etc. But we don’t share our back stories – the stories that make us, US!

This, along with everyone else, gives out a message that we are only allowed to share the good things; things that go well. Having said that, I have noticed that some people are starting to share some of the more private parts of their lives. Now, I’m not saying go out there and share every intimate detail of your life – not at all. But share things that can help your audience.

Share a problem that you’ve solved, share that you’re feeling crap today, or that you feel you’re not doing a good job on something. Sharing this kind of information makes you real…people can empathise – some will have had the same experience, and it can help to build more meaningful relationships.

Telling your story is showing the authentic you – an essential part of who you are.

5 reasons why we need storytelling

  • You CONNECT with your audience. You’ll find people who have been through the same thing or feel the same way. You’ll find those who totally get where you’re coming from and who you are. They will share their experiences with you and so it’s a way to start building trust with your audience. When you share your stories, it pushes you to step outside of your comfort zones and to reflect on where you’ve been and how far you’ve come.
  • Sharing your story defines your identity to your audience. Sharing your interests, be it political, emotional, funny, or serious issues, it shows you. You can also share your hobbies, as you may find others that have the same interests as you.
  • By sharing your own stories, you are helping others to have the space to share theirs. For example, if you share a particularly painful experience, such as miscarriage or mental illness, you’re letting others know that this is safe place to talk about it, that you understand and that there is space for healing. You’ll be helping others by telling your story.
  • Sharing a story also heightens the awareness of that subject. It might be something as simple as sharing your weight loss journey, or how you came back from an addiction or homelessness. These things are powerful, and if you can show how you overcame these issues, you are going to be helping someone who is still going through that same thing, and give them hope for their future. This also starts to create a community of likeminded people, who will feel less alone with their problems, and feel they have someone they can share with.
  • This can also be applied to business. Sharing a story of how a particular product helped you to overcome your problems. For example, if you sell weight loss products that you have used yourself and had success with, tell your story. If you have a product that has changed your life in some way, shout about it and how it helped. If you’ve used a business to provide a service that has seriously changed the way you do business, or has helped you get more clients, talk about it. If you provide that service and have testimonials that show that, share them as well as your story.   

Every single person in the world has a story to tell. It might be a personal story; it might be a business story. But if you get out there and tell it, you’ll be surprised at how much engagement you will get.

If you love stories, read one of my stories about how a business assignment to India changed my life. And if you’ve written a story about an aspect in your life, I’d love to hear about it.

How to increase engagement on social media

Social media engagement is the measurement of the likes, comments and shares your social media posts get. However, it’s not just about the numbers, it’s about how engaged your audience is with your posts, videos etc. It’s about quality, not quantity.

For example, let’s say you hold a big BBQ at your home and invited loads of people – some you know and some you don’t. They all turned up, but all just sat around silently. Nobody spoke to each other, nobody danced, no fun and games. If you were just looking at the numbers game, your BBQ would be a huge success…after all, shed loads of people came. But was it really a success? Did your guests enjoy themselves? Did they like the BBQ food? You don’t know if you don’t speak to them and ask.

Social media is the same – engagement with your audience is crucial to build a rapport, to develop relationships with your followers and potential customers. It helps you to build customer loyalty and trust.

How do you engage on social media?

It’s all about interacting with the people who like and follow you. It’s about building those relationships, getting to know them, and showing a genuine interest in them and their business/family or whatever they talk to you about.

  • When a person comments on your posts, ALWAYS reply.
  • If they ask a question, answer it, and go that extra mile to give them the information they need – and more.
  • Depending on your post or the question asked, you can answer jokingly and have a bit of backwards and forwards banter.
  • Thank people for commenting; if you get a new follow-on Instagram, DM to say thank you and introduce yourself and ask about the person who has followed you. The same applies for Facebook – send a private message to say thank you and interact with that person – even if it’s just saying hi and asking them how their day has been.
  • Try and avoid talking about your products or services in these first contact messages – just be friendly, show your personality and be genuinely interested in your new contact.

These points are basic, but they do work.

Grow your followers!

Grow your followers

So now, we need to look at how to grow your followers – the more followers you have, the more engagement you’re likely to get. But please, DON’T buy followers and don’t do ‘follow for follow’ or ‘like for like’. Only follow or like someone or their business, if you are genuinely interested in them, if you genuinely like their business or their page, or are interested in the content they put out.

  • Be consistent – I know, I bang on about this all the time, but it really is important. You don’t have to post every day, but post regularly so that your audience know when you look for content from you.
  • Create unique content – don’t just copy what other people do. You can use ideas from other peoples’ content but make it your own. You can use Canva to make posts – there is a free version, so you don’t have to pay to start on this site and it’s extremely useful, with lots of different templates to help you. It’s also super easy to use.
  • If you share someone else’s post, make sure you always credit them with it, so people know who created it.
  • Use a mixture of posts, such as quotes, gifs, memes, jokes, video, hints and tips, ‘how to’ posts, informational posts, educational posts – the list is endless.
  • You can also do ads for your business/products/services as a post but keep these to a minimum. Apply the 80/20 rule – 80% of posts to engage, entertain, educate, or inspire and 20% selling.
  • You can do paid ads to increase your followers, but you don’t have to do this.
  • Have a consistent look and feel to your page posts – this comes down to your brand – what do you want your posts to look like? How do you want people to feel? What colours do you use? A theme could be the look of your content, the type of content your share (funny, educational, inspiring) – this will largely depend on what you do. For example, if you’re a mindset coach, you might post inspirational quotes or tips to improve mindset, so this is worth spending some time thinking about what you want to portray to your audience.
  • Use images in your posts.
  • You can also collaborate with other businesses to help grow your followers. It’s best to collaborate with other businesses who have a similar audience to you but sell or promote different types of products or services. For example, if you are a hairdresser and you do hair for weddings, you could collaborate with a make-up artist who also does weddings – you can recommend each other when you get a booking. You can put links on each other’s social media pages and websites.
  • A collaboration could also include a contest or giveaway, a blog post promoting their products or a post on your social media pages…and vice versa.  
  • Set up a Facebook group. These are great for increasing social media engagement as they tend to be more social than pages as the members can post questions or comments at any time. It also means your customers can communicate with each other and get to know other like-minded people. It’s important that you are active in your group every day, several times a day – you need to keep an eye on things to make sure any disputes or differences of opinion don’t get out of hand…and moderate posts to avoid spam. And of course, engage with your group members by posting something of value every day.   

Measurement

As with everything, measurement is important. If you don’t measure what you do, how will you know if things have improved or if you are successful?

So, before you start any new engagement campaign, look at your insights on your various social media pages. Take a note of your followers, look at the type of posts that are popular. Then, when you embark on increasing your engagement, you’ll be able to see how you’ve done against what you did before. You’ll be able to see which posts people like and don’t like, what kind of posts get comments, which ones get shared, and which ones produce tumbleweed! 

Most of all, enjoy your social media – there’s a clue in the name! It’s about being sociable with others, engaging with them, building relationships, gaining trust, and making new friendships and business contacts, as well as new customers.

If you have any more tips, please let me know in the comments.

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Why consistency is key

Consistency is crucial to your business, as it helps establish awareness of your brand, builds trust with your audience, and helps deliver your products or services more efficiently.

Running your own business is hard work and I’m sure you’ve seen countless articles or webinars on how to be successful. But if you concentrate on the key element of consistency, across all the social media platforms you’re on and in your day-to-day processes, you’ll soon find your business gravitating towards success.

Know your brand!

I know from my own experience, that when you start in business, you pick the colours you like and the kind of image you want to convey to your target audience…then you get bored with it and go for a complete change. I’m not saying you shouldn’t make any changes, but if you are constantly changing your colours, images and fonts, it can make your brand appear unprofessional. A good, solid branding is what makes you stand out from the competition. If you look at any of the big brands, such as McDonald’s, they are highly consistent and instantly recognisable…because they rarely make big changes, if at all.  

Have a plan

Every business needs to have a plan. This keeps you on track and by following a plan of action, this helps not only keep you consistent, but also makes you focus on money so you can ensure your costs don’t rocket. If you’ve just started your business, this is even more important, so you don’t make costly decisions based on inconsistent actions.

Measurement

Measurement

No matter whether you’re a new business, or been going for a while, it takes time to see results. If you’re not consistent in your marketing, business processes, sales etc., you will see inconsistent results. For example, if you decide to pay for an ad, running it for just a couple of days is a waste of time and effort, but if you run it for a set period, you can measure much more easily whether the ad is working or not.   

Consistency in all its forms, but especially in the interactions you have with your clients, will help you build a loyal customer base, and your customers will get a great customer experience. This all comes down to the basics of knowing your target audience and understanding what they want from you and ensuring they get it. Being consistent means that your customer understands who you are, what your business stands for, what your business focusses on and how your products or services can help them.   

Three pillars of consistency!

The three pillars of consistency

The three pillars of consistency help you to focus on ensuring that your business has a sound base and is successful.

Accountability

If you are a small business, then it’s likely that the buck stops with you! You are totally accountable for everything that happens within your business, so it’s even more important to be consistent in everything you do.

  • Check your business goals and action plan regularly – adjust any goals that aren’t working.
  • Look at your products/services and regularly review to ensure they do what you say they do.
  • Look at your website and ensure that all the links work and that your copy is still relevant to your business and amend if you need to.
  • Look at your customer feedback – is there anything you can do to improve the service you give? Are all your products working for your customers? Do you have any complaints? If you do, try and address any problems and improve on your products/services.
  • Look at the communication you send out to customers – this might be a monthly newsletter. Is the content you’re putting out still relevant to your audience?

Relevancy

It’s really important to be consistent in your messaging. Your customers and potential customers rely on you for information about your products/services, things that make their lives easier.

It’s crucial that you stay the course and exercise patience. Things won’t happen immediately and it’s easy to be impatient and think that something isn’t working, but as with all things, whatever you decide to do with your business will take time. But if you’re consistent and keep plugging away, your brand will start to be in your target audience’s minds and your business will be successful.

Make sure your messaging is clear.

This might seem like an obvious point, but consistency with your messaging is key to a successful business. Wherever you advertise your business, be it on your logo, your flyers, your website, or your blog for example, you need to ensure that your overall message is the same. If your messaging is inconsistent, it will confuse your customers – they won’t be sure that what you’re selling is actually aimed at them.

As with everything in marketing, it’s about keeping things simple, clear and concise. Make your messaging memorable and use the same kind of wording, or ‘tone of voice’, so your audience recognise your style and know that it’s you – and more importantly, know that what you’re saying is meant for them.  

These pillars all help you to ensure consistency in your business. Consistency helps you create awareness of your business and brand, build trust and loyalty with your customers and deliver your products and services more efficiently. 

What does success look like?

What does success in your business look like to you? For some, it will be earning money, for some it will be the sense of achievement. We all start our businesses for different reasons, but our end goal is usually that we have a successful business.

It’s important to know what success means to you and what it looks like and feels like. Then you can create your goals to achieve your end result.  You might have a three-year plan, a five-year plan, or even a ten-year plan – again we’re all different and it will all come down to the expectations we have of ourselves and how our business performs.

Success quotes

Look at the quotes above.

They each have a different take on success.

“Business opportunities are like buses, there’s always another one coming.” Richard Branson, a British entrepreneur and adventurer, has led a life full of ups and downs. He has always embraced his moments of success and struggle alike. He has always turned his failures into steppingstones for success. He’s done everything from record labels to airlines and he advocates that there is always a different or new opportunity… you just have to look for it. And he is proof that multiple income streams work!

“Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.”  Henry David Thoreau was born and died in the 1800s. He was an American philosopher, essayist and poet. He believed that to live life to its fullest, people needed to simplify, get rid of unnecessary material possession and even unnecessary socialising. He also believed that if you are seeking success, you are likely to be romanticising the idea and not getting on with the hard, practical work necessary to achieve it.

“Success is not the key to happiness. Happiness is the key to success. If you love what you are doing, you will be successful.” Albert Schweitzer was a theologian, organist, writer, humanitarian, philosopher and physician. He felt that peoples’ ideas of success were backwards. He saw that people struggled to achieve success in order to feel good about themselves, but the real joy and happiness is in the doing, not in the end goal. He felt that was where true happiness was.

Which of these quotes resonates most with you? I think that most of us would take a little from each. I believe that multiple income streams are the way forward; I also believe that you have to work hard to achieve what you want, and that success is useless if I’m not happy.

Expectations

As I said earlier, all of us business owners are different. We all come from different backgrounds, with different experiences in everything we’ve done, from education to life itself…and those experiences go a long way to shaping how we feel about success. For some, having a healthy bank account is the epitome of success, whilst for others, it might be as simple as having a work/life balance, so they get quality time with their families.  

What you expect from your business is linked to the way you view your achievements. For example, you might do something that other people find impressive, but you have such high expectations of yourself that you might feel disappointed.

Another example is that you may come from a family where your parents were very strict and expected a lot from you. This kind of upbringing can make people put heaps of pressure on themselves to succeed. High expectations of this kind can cause some people to see their achievements as nothing to be proud of and may see even the biggest achievement as mediocre.

On the other hand, someone who had parents who taught them to be proud of everything they achieve, no matter how small, would celebrate all achievements and be proud of everything they achieve.

Success is about liking what you do, loving your business, being proud of your achievements and loving how you organise your business to get that success. And, most importantly, liking yourself!

The following views of success can potentially open your eyes to the reasons WHY you’re starting a business.

Examples of success

Here are a few more examples of what you might define as success.

Happiness

So many people live their lives being unhappy, for whatever reason. But to some, being successful is being happy – not necessarily making loads of money, but enough to provide for their family. Doing a job you love will make you happy, and to some, that is enough.

Achieving a goal

When you start your business, you will have an end goal in site. You’ll also have lots of other business goals that you’ll set every year as part of your marketing strategy. Often, achieving your goals will mean success – you’ve achieved what you set out to do. Once you know and understand exactly what success looks like to you, you’ll be able to set goals that help you achieve that.

Love what you do and do what you love

There are so many people who work just because they must – they don’t enjoy their work – it’s just a means to an end…payday. And if you’re happy with that, that’s fine, but there are many for whom their job is not satisfying. And they might be spending more than 40 hours a week doing that job.

Having your own business and doing something that you love, will give you more job satisfaction. You’ll feel that you’re doing something you’re passionate about and because you’re doing what you love – you’ll love doing it. Starting your own business is no picnic – there are lots of things to consider and you won’t be an overnight success, but you’ll be working for you, putting money and satisfaction in your pocket, not someone else’s.

Work/Life balance

This is so important to all of us. Working hard, doing long hours can be the norm when you first start your business, but it’s absolutely crucial to have quality down time with your friends and family. If life is all work, work, work, you’ll eventually suffer from burnout. So, it’s important to try and strike the right balance between work and life. For some people, this is the crux of being successful…they have a business that is successful, AND they have time for family, friends, hobbies etc.

Making a difference

For some business owners, success is about being able to have the money to be able to make a difference to others. This can look different to different people. For example, one business might support an animal charity and make donations; another might sponsor a child’s education in a poorer country; to some it will be helping other businesses to be successful, by giving free information or coaching; some might support a charity or organisation that will make a difference to our world or climate. You get the idea!

For these business owners, the success is in seeing the difference or positive impact that they are making.

Conclusion

No matter what you do, or how you do it, success will be dependent on how you view it. It won’t be the same as your mate down the road. The great thing about us as humans is that we’re all unique, we all have our own freewill and can make our own choices for ourselves and our businesses.

I’ll ask the question I asked at the beginning…What does success in your business look like to you? Being successful might not be having your own business, you might enjoy working for a large corporation or small company. It’s important to be happy in what you do, so whatever you feel is best for you is the right thing to do.