Creating a 2016 blog strategy

Video Notes

Any websites or resources that are discussed in my videos are always listed and linked below. Links with an * next to them are affiliate links- just thought you guys should know that. Enjoy!!

50 copy & paste blog post ideas: This month's worksheet is filled with 50 copy & paste blog post titles that you can use if you can't think of anything to write.

Calliframe: This is the website of one of our very own Shelancers, Chrys. Chrys is a website designer who fearlessly moved to Africa and left an (un)creative career to jump into the design industry. She's a really interesting lady and she's always up for chatting in our Facebook group, so drop her a message!

Devan Danielle: Devan is all about the branding! She helps bloggers and small business owners establish a meaningful brand by going beyond the visuals. Check out her blog for her latest (UBER fantastic) series: 22 Days Of Branding. 

The Epic Blog Planner: A one-year editorial planner by Regina from byregina.com. 

The Badass Blog Planner: Created by Sarah from xosarah.com, this is another paper planner you could use if you'd rather choose something that is bright and inspiring!

Worksheet | 30 copy & paste blog post ideas

So you wanna create a blog but you don't have anything to write about. 

Or you already have a blog, but you're feeling stuck.

You keep waiting for blog post ideas to pop into your head but they're just. not. coming. Or even worse: you feel like a total fraud- like you're not qualified or experienced enough to write on your subject- and that fraudulent feeling is stopping you from putting anything out into the world. 

Sound familiar?

Here's what I tell the freelancers I consult with: it doesn't matter if you don't feel like you're experienced enough to start writing about something. Just start! 

When I first started my business, one of the first articles I was wrote was about how to name your business. But why? If I wasn't an expert in naming businesses (or business in genera) then why start writing about it?

Because I had just decided on a name for my business and it was fresh in my mind. I had made a few mistakes in deciding on a name, but I'd ultimately made up my mind and had good reasons for going with my first business name, Betty Red Design. I didn't start writing about it because I was an expert on it at the time- I wrote about it because I had something to say about it. I had an opinion on it, and I'd just been through it. That alone qualified me enough to share my view with others. 

If you aren't writing blog posts because you feel like a fraud, then push that fear away and just write. 

However!! If you aren't writing blog posts because you've hit a creative block and can't think of anything to write about, I can help. 

I've put together a 2-page PDF with 30 possible blog post titles. All you have to do is copy and paste the ones you want to use into a text document or editorial calendar and fill in the blanks!

Let's run through this super quick so you get what I mean. The first blog post title in the PDF is "5 things I wish I'd known before I started _________."

You could fill in the blanks and create all kinds of weird and wonderful blog post titles, like...

5 things I wish I'd known before I started freelancing.

5 things I wish I'd known before I started learning to juggle. 

5 things I wish I'd known before I started beatboxing. 

You get the idea. 

Just make sure you stick to your expert topic. So if you're a website designer, stick to the topic of websites and make sure your blog post titles are website-related, like...

5 things I wish I'd known before I started using Wordpress. 

Have fun with these! And don't be afraid to change them up a bit! I can't wait to see the blog posts you come up with. If have any q's or you want to share your new, totally brilliant blog posts then share them with your shelance sisters in the Facebook group!

Behind the scenes of my business: September

If you'd like to read my previous behind-the-scenes posts, here's July's and here is August's.

In these posts, I share:

  • My blog growth
  • My newsletter growth
  • How I did with last month's goals
  • My goals for next month
  • Lessons I've learned throughout the month
  • My current obsessions

My blog growth

September visits: 12,616 (+536)

September audience: 10,364 (+781)

Most popular post published in September: 7 signs telling you it's time to rebrand

My top 3 traffic referrers: As usual, it was Pinterest, Direct (people directly visiting my site), and Google. I also got a few new visitors from Nubby Twiglet and Aeolidia because they featured me on their blogs. In fact, last month I booked a client thank to Aeolidia's feature!

September didn't result in as much traffic as I had hoped, which is ironic because it's also been the month I stepped up my social media strategy. I think if I hadn't improved my social media, this month's traffic report would have been worse than my previous months. But I'm putting it down to this: none of my blog posts during September were very popular, and they weren't intended to be. 

In September, I primarily posted about branding and website design. When I write these kinds of posts, they never become popular on Pinterest (one of my best traffic sources) and they don't generate many comments. I assume this is because my blog audience is mainly freelancers who don't necessarily need to read up on things like this, since most of them are in the design industry. 

So why write posts that don't go viral on social media and generate lots of attention?

Because brand and website design is the focus of my business. I love writing content to help freelancers grow their business (I have a whole library of these kinds of posts here!) but when I analyzed my blog content, I realized I hadn't been writing as much as I should about the topics I'm an expert in. My design clients need to see more blog posts about branding and websites so their trust in my skills can grow strong. That's why I chose to mainly write about these subjects this month. 

I publish one blog post every week on a Tuesday. From now on, I've decided that each month I'm going to post one branding article, one article on websites, one article to help freelancers grow their business, and one article about tools and resources that will help creatives build better businesses. 

My newsletter growth

New subscribers in September: 301 new subscribers

Unsubscribes: 53

My newsletter is growing faster and faster these days, which I'm over the moon about! I've gained more subscribers this month than the last five months because I added an announcement bar at the top of my site which prompts visitors to sign up for my newsletter, and I started adding content upgrades to my blog posts. 

I prioritize my newsletter over my blog because newsletter readers are much more likely to buy my products and hire me to work for them. They're VIP's. That's why it's important to treat them like they are. I'm planning on creating a few free email courses just for my newsletter subscribers soon! I want them to feel as special as possible. 

I also thought it would be interesting to tell you guys how my little promo email went. Recently, I decided I wanted to earn a little extra money for my trip to Thailand and my trip to Prague in Oct/Nov. So I sent out a newsletter to my subscribers advertising a new service I created: consultations for freelancers. I also mentioned that I'm now booking clients from November onward. My campaign was strictly promotional. I've never sent a campaign like that before, so I wasn't sure what to expect. But, within 30 minutes, I checked my email and I had three new project inquiries and a consultation purchase!

It proves that newsletter marketing is one of the BEST ways to build your clientele and sell your products.

As of now (September 28th 2015), I only have one consultation spot left for October 5th. So if you need help growing your freelance business or blog, I'd love to be the lady that helps you!

How I did with my September goals

These were my goals in September and here's how I did:

1. Get 40 more TSC subscribers. I failed, again. *Palm to face* Because of the rate my current client projects are going and the short break I had this month, I didn't manage to find time to work on this goal. I did get a few new subscribers though, and barely any unsubscribes. I also created a marketing strategy that I'm looking forward to implementing!

2. Book a design client for when I return from Thailand. This one also didn't happen. I've had inquiries, but no bookings, which has been a little worrying because I'm usually always been booked at least 2 months in advance. This dry stage has got me a little worried if I'm being brutally honest with you guts. If things remain quiet, I'm going to have to analyze my site and services and make some changes. 

3. Finish streamlining my processes. Done! I just need to redo my canned emails and add a few details to my Welcome packet. I'm looking forward to sharing my new processes with you all. 

My October goals

Since I'm away for 2 weeks of October I thought it would be best if I set just one goal. 

1. Book a design client for November. When you only have a small period of time, it's a lot easier to prioritize your goals. This goal is definitely the most important out of all the goals I could set, because my design services bring in 2/3 of my income each year. I'll work on other small goals too, but this goal comes first. 

Lessons I learned throughout September

All in all, I can't help but feel disappointed in myself for how September's goals have done. BUT, I'm trying not to feel too gloomy about it. After all, September has resulted in lots of new newsletter subscribers, a new service, plenty of down-time, and a lot more blogger friends. It all about staying positive and counting your blessings.

Current obsessions

Cash Copy Course*-: Halley Gray, a friend and client of mine, has created this AMAZING course to help you quickly create sales pages that make more sales. Halley is a genius. She quadrupled her income this year using some of the techniques she teaches in this course. If you need a lesson in writing badass sales pages, Halley can definitely help.

Square Plugins: If you use Squarespace, you'll LOVE this site. Squarespace can be a little limiting with their design options, especially if you don't know code. Square Plugins offers lots of CSS code snippets that can transform how your Squarespace blocks look, from newsletter customizations to summary block customizations. 

Tailwind: For the past couple of month's I've been using Viraltag to schedule my Pinterest posts, but a friend recommended Tailwind so I decided to try it out. I love it! It's like Viraltag, but better. Tailwind not only allows you to schedule Pinterest posts, but suggests things to post, analyzes your pins and generates reports, suggests the best times to pin, and more. 

*Links marked with an asterisk are affiliate links. Don't worry though- I only promote products I've benefitted from and believe in.

What have you achieved this month? What are your goals for next month? Leave a comment below this post OR post in our Facebook group!

Behind the scenes of my biz: August 2015

As you probably already know, in July I decided to take my monthly posts one step further by sharing my goals, achievements, stats and growth each month. 

In these posts, I'm going to share:

  • My blog growth
  • My newsletter growth
  • How I did with last month's goals
  • My goals for next month
  • Lessons I've learned throughout the month
  • My current obsessions

Here's July's post if you're interested! Now, moving on to August...

My blog growth


August didn't do as well as July but the reason for that is because I posted the social media schedule I create for TSC on my blog in July and it went viral on Pinterest, resulting in more hits to my site. But I'm still happy about my August traffic! It's a lot better than June, but I'm guessing that's because I've been putting more effort into my blog and I moved The Shelancers Club to this website. 

I could easily feel deflated about my current stats because, even though they're good, they're not as good as what I used to get to my blog. However, I'm not. Because traffic isn't everything (there's a great post on this topic over here if you'd like to check it out. I totally recommend it if traffic stats get you down.)

August visits: 9279 (-1607)

August pageviews: 19,178 (-2767)

Most popular post published in August: 21 things you can automate in your creative business. 

The first article went viral on Twitter. My 'Mentions' tabs was constantly flooded with people tagging me in their tweet about that post, YAY. I think it's a well-known fact that posts and courses on automation and making business easier are always popular in the creative business industry, so if you have anything to say about this topic then I encourage you to publish a post on it!

My second post was published in July and has had 1.2k shares on Pinterest so far. Seriously- where would my biz be without Pinterest?! I LOVE Pinterest.

My top 3 referrers: Pinterest, Direct (people directly visiting my site), and Google. I don't really want to focus on my top 3 referrers today though, I want to focus on the 9th best referrer, Aeolidia. They featured one of my blog posts on their blog a few months ago and I get a small, constant stream of traffic from them every month. However, this month I booked a client who found me through them! I'll be sending them a postcard to say thanks at the end of this month. It just shows that even small sources of traffic can do wonders for your business! 

My newsletter growth

New subscribers in August: 151

Average open rate: 40%

Average click rate: 6%

A 35-40% open rate is common in the blogging industry, but I'd like increase mine. I use Mailchimp and I have to pay for the amount of subscribers I have, so if people aren't reading my newsletters I'm going to delete them soon. To do this I just send an email to the people who don't open any of my newsletters and tell them I'll be unsubscribing them unless they click a certain link.

My click rate is low, but that's because I don't require my readers to click through to my blog to read the full post. I just send the full post in the email. 

My newsletter has experienced a lot of growth this year since I've been blogging more consistently and more in-depth. I'm working on increasing my subscribe rate even more by adding content upgrades to my blog posts. A content upgrade is a bonus freebie related to your blog post, and readers have to sign up to get it. I've joined Leadpages so I can do this (I highly recommend Leadpages!!)

How I did with my August goals

These were my goals in August and here's how I did:

1. Streamline my processes. I've been working on this goal for the past couple of months but I made major progress in August thanks to Stress Less & Impress, a course that helps freelancers streamline their process and implement systems. I was already doing a lot of the things outlined in the course but this course pushed me to improve them and gave me lots of extra ideas! It was definitely a great investment for my biz.

2. Fully book my schedule until I go to Thailand. I'm going to Thailand with some girl friends the end of October, so I wanted to book one final branding project before I go. Done!

3. Start adding content upgrades to my blog posts. Done- WOO! I signed up for Leadpages and I wrote and scheduled my posts for the next 3 weeks with content upgrades in them. I'm looking forward to seeing if my subscriber rate increases because of this in next month's September review!

My September goals

1. Get 40 more TSC subscribers. This is a pretty low goal but that's the point. In the past, I've given myself high goals that I haven't achieved because they've seemed too distant. My aim here is that this goal will feel attainable and I won't feel the need to kill myself to attain it.

2. Book a design client for when I return from Thailand. I'm only going there for two weeks so I need a project lined up for when I return, hopefully a luxury brand + website design project.

3. Finish streamlining my processes. Can you believe I'm not done yet?! Streamlining and implementing processes is tough work, especially since I have lots of other jobs to do. It's totally worth it though. Since taking Stress Less & Impress my current systems have improved SO much! I seem more professional to my clients, everything is easier for them, and everything is easier for me!

Lessons I learned throughout August

1. I've learned the importance of keeping track of how much money I'm earning. Since I started using Wave I've realized I'm making more money than I anticipated, which means I've been able to increase my income goal for the year!

2. I'm sticking to my goals a lot better. Creating only 3 monthly goals has really helped me stay in control. I've found that when I focus on more than 3 goals, I stress out.

3. It's OK to hire help! I haven't hired a virtual assistant yet (because it kinda scares me) but I believe in doing things that scare you and I know I'll do this soon. It's just a matter of making sure I hire the right person.

Current obsessions

Stress Less & Impress*- the best course I've taken this year!! At first, I saw that I was already doing everything outlined in the course (like getting clients to sign a contract, fill in a questionnaire, use a project management system...) and I felt a little disappointed. But when I went through the course it showed me so many small ways I could improve what I was already doing. If you need to streamline your systems, or you haven't got any systems in place at all, definitely look into this course!

Leadpages- I signed up so I could use their Leadboxes. It allows me to add an optin at the bottom of each blog post prompting my readers to sign up for a content upgrade, and it delivers the upgrade to them straight away and adds them to my mailing list.

Viraltag*- I'm in LOVE with this social media scheduling tool. I use Buffer for scheduling to Facebook and Twitter but I use Viraltag for Pinterest. It allows me to really quickly bulk-schedule pins to Pinterest- a lot faster than I can in Buffer. Since Pinterest is my main source of website traffic, I've decided to invest $12 a month in Viraltag so I schedule regular daily pins. 

*Links marked with an asterisk are affiliate links. Don't worry though- I only promote products I've benefitted from and believe in.

What have you achieved this month? What are your goals for next month? Leave a comment below this post OR post in our Facebook group!