Moni Jefferson Interview - Diversity

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Moni Jefferson Interview - Diversity

I am so excited to be chatting with Moni about diversity today! She is an amazing woman and I am so glad we connected. We're both military spouses and entrepreneurs! It is an honor to share her voice with you all today, so without further ado, let's dive in! 

Tell my readers a little bit about yourself and your business!

Hi all!  My name is Moni, and I am a PR Strategist. I own a virtual PR agency and have been in this business for a year and a half. I am a military spouse and started my own business out of frustration with the traditional job search.  Under- and unemployment in the military spouse community is a whole separate topic and there are many contributing factors, but on the most basic level, it is very difficult to maintain a traditional job or career simply because I move around a lot, each time my husband receives a new assignment.

My company specializes in influencer and consumer PR. We create PR strategies, events, and launch products and services. I collaborate with clients to build their brand while reaching their key publics and streamlining their vision to generate results that both meet and exceed their goals.

I bring a bold, sassy, and witty personality and I  believe that everyone can create the business of their dreams. I have a B.A. in Communications & Public Relations from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. By aligning my purpose with my passion I am able to motivate, inspire, and support entrepreneurs as they run a successful business. I am a proud Air Force spouse and I've been married to my best friend Roy for 19 years. I have 3 brilliant children who keep me on my toes! Some fun facts about myself: I am a fiery Latina, passionate lover of life, spin addict and I get it all done fueled by coffee and wine - and a few colorful words!

 

Why is diversity something you’re passionate about?

I definitely feel like we don't dialogue on it enough. And to be honest, until I had my kids I never gave it much thought. But my husband is mixed Black and Korean and I am Puerto Rican, so my kids look very diverse. Through answering their questions and hearing their insecurities, diversity became a major subject of discussion in my home. They asked why their hair was not straight or why their skin looked like poop. My lightest-skinned child would say he was white to feel like he fit in. It broke my heart and I knew then we had to educate our kids. It also opened my eyes to my own experiences and perception as an adult.

 

What would an ideal diverse entrepreneur community look like to you?

Listen, I know the world is not perfect and you can’t always check the boxes in a community to make sure there are enough Asians, Blacks or Hispanics. But, I tell you this: it does have to be on the forefront of leadership at all times. It is critical to represent people of all backgrounds, culture and color. This means I make an effort to make sure my company, clients and groups represent everyone from all walks of life.

 

Where are some areas that you see the community lacking?

I rarely see Latinas or Blacks featured in events, summits, or retreats. And if one is included, she is the "token" Black or Latina girlto fill in that gap and say "WE ARE DIVERSE!" Come on, ladies - there is so much more we can do! Leaders must be purposeful in choosing team members and creating inclusiveness. We have to be more involved and take responsibility for our decisions and the blind eye we sometimes accidentally indulge.

 

What are some steps you recommend for change?

Take a look at who you have surrounded yourself with. Do you all look the same? If the answer is YES, then as a leader it is your JOB to change that and diversify yourself, your community, and your business. Make an effort to reach out to those who are of ethnic backgrounds and introduce yourself. Ask what they do and see if you can move forward. Keep in mind that if we don’t see others that look like us, we can feel out of place and potentially even unwelcome. If you reach out first, that opens the door.

 

Any final thoughts?

I want everyone to know that it is not just the obligation of minority members to talk and educate about diversity; it is everyone's responsibility to implement this discussion into our businesses and lives. It starts with us and ripples out into our families, friends and cultures.

 

 

 

It was such a blessing to have Moni share her thoughts on this topic! Diversity is key to building strong and supportive communities and her voice is spot on. If you want to learn more about Collectively Caitlin's take on diversity click here.

 

Make sure to check out Moni's website and follow her on social media! She is amazing! 

Website - Facebook - Instagram

 

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Messy + Alive

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Messy + Alive

Pull up a seat, my friend. Grab a coffee with me because I've got to lay my heart out with you.

 

My dear friend Ashley runs an amazing campaign called #TheImperfectBoss. You can see my interview with her here. Her movement is about freeing businesswomen from the pressure of perfect. And I love it! I mean, don't get me wrong - who doesn't enjoy a beautifully curated Instagram feed?  Sometimes, though, we just need a reminder that we're not alone in this life. Ya know? I know you do! During this year's campaign, Ashley also introduced a few limited-edition products, including this Messy + Alive mug. 

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White Privilege in the Entrepreneur Community

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White Privilege in the Entrepreneur Community

It's about to get real up in here. Today I am talking specifically to my white sisters in business.

 

Here's the deal: white privilege is real. Now, hold tight - stick with me here. It is an issue in our community. And as a white woman who sees the pain it causes her sisters of color, I feel compelled to talk about it. 

 

If your first reaction is to say "No! This isn't an issue in our online and creative entrepreneur communities - we're independent thinkers! We support all individuals!" I want you to think about this...

 

Who is featured in the majority of stock images?

When's the last time you saw a conference or event with a well-mixed lineup of speakers?

How many times have you been to a conference where the majority or indeed all of the attendees were white?

Who are the industry leaders that seem to have the loudest voice? 

 

White privilege is a fact, not an opinion. I frequently hear this justification: "Well, they are a minority group so there are fewer of them. It stands to reason that they would be less featured in stock images/events/leadership positions/etc."  At first glance, this seems logical. Because statistically, yes, that's reasonable. But the truth is, that's not how any industry works. They are never an exact representation of the society they operate in, and this is definitely true among entrepreneurs. In fact, African American women are the fastest growing demographic running start-ups. (Sources here: http://www.blackenterprise.com/small-business/black-women-business-owners-outpace-all-other-startups-six-times-national-average/   and  http://fortune.com/2015/06/29/black-women-entrepreneurs/) These women are killing it! Since they are leaders in this particular industry, why is their representation so disproportionate?  It almost seems that the industry conveniently forgets that they exist! 

 

Maybe you're asking why something as seemingly minor as stock imagery is important. I mean, it's mostly just pictures of people standing around holding coffee mugs anyway. Why does the model's skin color matter? Well, imagine this scenario. You are walking through a mall, and you see two stores. Their clothing inventory is identical,  but one features black mannequins, African American models in their imagery and window signage, and there are African American employees working inside. The store next door has white mannequins, white models in their signage, and is staffed with white employees. Which store are you going to walk into? The answer is simple: whichever one lets you more easily visualize YOURSELF wearing their merchandise. Representation sells. If I can easily identify myself in your brand, business, or product, then I am more likely to buy. Period! This is basic psychology.  People of color need to be represented in our branding so they can see that we are here for them, we are looking for them, and we would love to work with them! 

 

What about all those white speaker lineups? Some event planners try to defend themselves with statements like "It's not intentional, I just don't know any African American women to invite." Really? They're the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs, and you don't know any? It's 2017. The world is at your fingertips - expand your circle! It's time to mix and mingle, people! I'm not saying that you should book a black woman based solely on her skin color. That is JUST as bad! That makes her the token minority at your event. And in my opinion, that is horribly disrespectful. What's a girl to do?

 

Start fostering new relationships today, before it's time to reach out to speakers. My friend Monique recommends Googling "Women of color who are __" (business coaches, copywriters, web designers, etc.) and then following them on social media. Buy their products or services. Start building those connections! My friend Kristin suggests that every time you follow a calligrapher, photographer, or other creative entrepreneur on Instagram, take it one step further and search for someone who works in the same field but is a WOC.  The thing to remember is that if you don't intentionally expand your network, you will never learn anything new.  It is imperative to seek out relationships with people who have had different experiences than you, or your perception of the world is going to be embarrassingly skewed.  This is true in all of life, not just in business.

 

Our voices as white women are louder. It's not fair, but it's true. We do statistically outnumber people of color in American society. The result is that our collective voices are more valued and more heard. And we've acknowledged that this effect is visible in everything from being picked first for speaking gigs, to being automatically represented in imagery everywhere. 

 

So now what? You've read this post, and hopefully you've been made aware of the ways white privilege is giving you an advantage. Don't get hung up on defending yourself; it's not actually about you, individually, at all.  It's about systemic advantage and why each of us must take action to stack the cards more fairly. Now is the time to use our voices and platforms for positive change. Now is the time to branch out and start cultivating those relationships with our African American sisters. Start representing them in your brand. Start inviting them to speak at your conference or retreat. Ask them to guest post on your blog. Make a space for them to share their voice that they currently don't have! 

 

Let me share some resources with you today! 

 

I highly recommend EntrepreFriendships, a book by Monique Melton. It will guide you through building friendships in the entrepreneurial community! http://moniquemelton.com/entreprefriendships/

 

I also recommend checking out CreateHer stock images. This company is working to represent African American women in a variety of stock imagery! http://www.createherstock.com/

 

Finally, just go out there and meet some people who may not look like you! 

 

 

I may have stepped on a few toes with this blog post. And you know what? I don't mind. I think that's what it feels like to grow - facing the things that make us uncomfortable. That's where society makes progress. So drop your thoughts in the comments below! I'd love to hear from you!

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The Story Of My Re-Brand

The Story Of My Re-Brand

Let me get super real with you for a minute. I was feeling pretty "almost" in my business.  Does that sound familiar at all? I felt like the success I was working so hard for - that I wanted and expected - was just barely out of reach! And let me preface this by stating that we all have very different definitions of success. That's why a key question I ask of all incoming clients is to define what success looks like for the

How To Build An Audience From Scratch

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How To Build An Audience From Scratch

How To Build An Audience From Scratch - Business Coach - Collectively Caitlin

Building an audience from scratch can be so overwhelming! You've created this great service or product or campaign and now you just need to figure out how to get in front of people! 

Who:

So let's start with figuring out who would be interested in your thing! If you're offering would be loved by a variety of people then I would try and start with marketing to one specific niche. 

Here are questions to ask yourself:

Who wants this material?

Are they mail or female or both?

Age group?

Location?

Interests other than my offering?

What things do they have in common? (For  instance, if you had something that would help kindergarten teachers, something your audience would have in common is that they are all kindergarten teachers!)

How:

Now that you have an idea of who we're trying to to reach, how are we going to do it?

Where does your ideal client hang out online? Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.?

What is visually attracting to them? 

Once you start answering these questions, start targeting them on their preferred social media profile! Use hashtags that they would search on Instagram. Share blog posts and information they would love on Facebook. etc. etc.

Building any audience takes time. Be patient. Use the social media strategies you know, and go out and find those people! Share your content everywhere!

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Facebook Group Etiquette - Business Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Collectively Caitlin

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Facebook Group Etiquette - Business Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Collectively Caitlin

Facebook Group Etiquette - Business Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Collectively Caitlin
Facebook Group Etiquette - Business Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Collectively Caitlin

Let's talk about Facebook group etiquette! I don't know about you, but I am a Facebook group junkie! I am in so many of them and I can't seem to cut back because I LOVE them all! Most of these groups have some common rules. And people get frustrated when that happens! I get it! But let's chat about some great practices to assure that it won't happen again! But again, all groups have different rules. My tips may not be perfect for a group you're in. So always make sure to read them before posting!

You want to be giving to groups as much as you are getting. One quick and easy way to see if you are succeeding at this is to use the search option in some of your favorite groups. Type in your name and hit enter. Are you popping up for more comments or posts? If you are posting more than commenting on other people's posts then you aren't giving to the group! Groups are there for the mutual benefit of all! Make sure you're contributing to other peoples conversations and sharing your wisdom and experiences to help other members! 

Imagine if it wasn't on Facebook and was real life. How weird would it be? A room of people standing around and chatting and you just randomly making announcements or asking questions over the speaker to everyone! I mean, that would seem pretty annoying. So don't do it on Facebook either. 

When you do write posts, don't just promote yourself. It's a promo day or something like that when people know to look for those promotions, then it's totally fine! But otherwise, share value, ask questions, engage! That's how you're going to build relationships and make sales! Relational marketing is king right now in our society! Read more about relationship marketing here! Facebook groups are a great way to meet new clients, but also a great place to learn things, and a great place to make new friends!

Share value! You know things that not everyone knows! Share that wisdom! People will be so grateful! And they might see why they need to hire you! Share, share, share! 

It's also a great place to get help! Oh goodness some of the best business help I have gotten has been from Facebook groups! I met my amazing virtual assistant, Alexandrea in a Facebook group! My website copywriter, back end wordpress life saver, the creator of a life saving client management system Dubsado! SO MANY amazing people! Use groups to make those connections! 

Also: a good tip to keep in mind, before you write your post, go comment on at least 5 other posts in the group to keep engagement going! 

Who have you met through Facebook groups? What works for you in Facebook groups? 

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My Word For 2017: Sustainability

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My Word For 2017: Sustainability

My Word For 2017: Sustainability - Creative Entrepreneur Business Coach - Collectively Caitlin
My Word For 2017: Sustainability - Creative Entrepreneur Business Coach - Collectively Caitlin

Sustainability - I feel like this is an uncommon word to be chosen for ones year. But I feel like this really fits both my business and personal life for 2017. I have actually never chosen a word for my year. As I often feel these things aren't necessarily followed through with. Much like a new years resolution. And in fact, if I had chosen a word last year, the year and my ideas and plans changed so much over the 12 month time that I highly doubt that anything I choose in January would have been applicable by December. BUT, as I set my goals and plans in place for 2017, both personal and business related, I realized there was a common thread, sustainability. Let me explain a little more what that will look like for my business and personal life. 

Sustainability in my business

This year I am going to be really focusing on creating and launching more passive income models. As many of you know I have and ebook here and courses in teachable here, but this year I plan on bringing much more to you guys! I will always still have the option of one on one coaching because that is my FAVORITE thing about what I do! I love chatting with each and every one of you! But having some sustainable streams of income allows me to spend even more time with my one on one clients! So I am working on creating these as we speak! It will also allow me to take a day or two off without loosing out on money! Which, who doesn't love that!?  It will also allow more people to work with me who aren't necessarily ready to take the plunge into one-on-one coaching! That's more amazing women I get to work with!

Also creating a more sustainable client base. As of right now, my number of one on one clients at one time can range from 5-15. That's a lot of fluctuating income. Time to make that a little more regular! 

Sustainability in my personal life

So this one is a little different! My husband and I have decided that we want to drastically reduce the waste in our home in 2017! We don't plan on being those people who fit an entire year worth of trash into a mason jar. But we do want to make some major changes in our daily lives. 

This being said, the environment has never been a number one passion for either of us. Our hearts are truly motivated by doing things that make an impact on peoples lives. (Here are some organizations we support regularly if you are looking for an organization to support! A21 Campaign, Show Hope, Reece's Rainbow, and Compassion International) But those causes aren't necessarily ones that we can impact in our day to day lives. And while we will continue to support these organizations and likely many more like them, changes in our waste lifestyle can make a daily impact on the environment. Last year I made a change by going vegan but this year I will be doing much more!

This is a bit of a "passion project" if you will! I created a Tumblr for those that want to follow along and learn some simple tips and tricks for reducing waste in their lives! Click Here To View Johnson's Go Green Tumblr

I will also be striving to make the more "wasteful" purchases count. For instance, I still need notebooks for work. So I am purchasing from Marie Mae because their products are more sustainable and they teach business courses to women all over the world who otherwise would not be able to afford business training. And while I will be greatly limiting my clothing shopping, there will still be some occasions where I will still need new clothes. In these situations I will purchase either from thrift/second hand stores or from companies like Francis + Benedict where their clothing is helping women in Togo create sustainable income for themselves and their families! 

I think 2017 is going to be an amazing year! What do you think of the word sustainability for 2017? Do you have word for this year? If so, what is it and why?

XOXO

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Making Wise Business Upgrades

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Making Wise Business Upgrades

Making Wise Business Upgrades - Business Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Collectively Caitlin Productivity Coach

We always want to level up our businesses! Especially when it's a new year and we have so many ideas floating around for the year ahead! I totally get that! But we also really have to make sure we are making the best decisions for our business and not just the most fun ones! 

First and foremost, what things do you want. Go ahead. Do it. Make your dream list! Get it written down! Because at some point you probably will want to get those done! So make your list and hold onto it! 

Now that you have gotten all those fun things you want to do for your business written down! Let's examine what items on that list (and maybe some that aren't) are actual needs for your business! Start by making a list of your strengths and weaknesses. Like really break that down. What things in your business are you just down right bad at. You may even have a characteristic or two that creates weaknesses in your business. Pick out what those tasks are and put them on the list!

Also include things that you absolutely hate doing! I think we all have things in our businesses that we could totally live without. (taxes and accounting for me! Anyone else?!) Add those to your list! 

Now what is your biggest need right now? What's the thing that you really know you just can't keep doing on your own? Hire out for that first and foremost! Or upgrade that first and foremost! I knew before I started this site that I am not a designer by any stretch of the imagination! So from the start I hired Little Blue Deer to design the site! And she did a better job on this site than I had even imagined! I am SO in love with it!

I also hired out for copy writing as I have a hard time with the sales pages. And I have a business coach I hired! And a virtual assistant! But it's important to remember we can't do all these things at once. You need to make a priority list for your business. For me all of these happened overtime. First the website, then the copy writing, then the virtual assistant and business coach. All businesses are always works in progress. 

I would love to hear about what upgrades have made it to the top of your priority list and why! Share in the comments!

XOXO

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Getting Started With Online Selling - Alison Wren

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Getting Started With Online Selling - Alison Wren

Getting Started With Online Selling - Alison Wren - Guest Post - Collectively Caitlin - Business Coach

Selling online is a dream for many. Whether it’s your own designs and products or a collection of gorgeous things from others - it can be a great way to build a profitable business.

 It isn’t easy – these days ecommerce is dominated by mega retailers like Amazon. But in the same way as many of us love to support our local stores, there is still a place for the independent ecommerce store.

Here are my key success factors for online selling:

Identify your niche.

You can’t compete with the big retailers so don’t try.

As a boutique ecommerce store it’s vital to have a clearly identified niche - a specific and well defined segment of the population who will love and buy your product.

Once you have defined this you can really understand your customer. Their values, what motivates them and what makes them want to buy. With this knowledge you can target your online marketing – your website copy, your photographs and your social media – specifically at that person.

What can you give them that the mega stores can’t? It could be unrivalled product knowledge, a great sense of style that helps them get the look they want or beautiful, hard to find items. Find a reason they will buy from you – and pay a realistic price.

Marketplaces are a great place to get started.

Getting customers to visit your online shop is tough. Page 1 of Google is usually dominated by big brands and paid search is complicated (and expensive, if you don’t get it right).

So many ecommerce businesses start out by listing their products on an online marketplace like Etsy, eBay or Amazon. These big marketplaces can get your products in front of large numbers of willing buyers very quickly.

It’s a good way to learn what sells, what doesn’t and get to know your customers before you invest in your own ecommerce website.

At some point you will want to have your own website. Basing your whole business on someone else’s platform leaves you vulnerable to rule changes and if you break the rules (whether by accident or not) your shop can be taken down at a moment’s notice.

Photographs sell

Successful online businesses know that great photographs are what really make your customer WANT to buy.

Snaps taken on your smartphone just won’t do.

This is an area where you simply cannot take shortcuts. Either use a professional photographer or invest in the right training and equipment to learn how to take fabulous product shots.

Pay attention to your product titles and descriptions

It’s boring, but writing well-crafted, individual titles and descriptions for every product will really pay off. Whether you are listing on a marketplace like Etsy or for your own website, these will determine if your products get found or not.

It’s important for organic search. The page title (which is usually the same as the product title) is one of the key things Google looks at and it also wants to see original, relevant content on the page.

It’s important for paid search. Google Shopping adverts are one of the most cost effective ways to get your products in front of willing buyers and these rely heavily on the product description to decide when to show your item. Even if you are not using Shopping adverts immediately, it makes sense to get these right from Day 1.

Research your keywords, create keyword rich titles, make sure your descriptions are comprehensive (don’t forget vital details like sizing that your buyers need to know) and most of all make sure each one is unique.

If you are selling branded products don’t be tempted to use the manufacturer’s description – create your own.

Social media alone will only take you so far

It’s the secret that all those social media gurus don’t tell you - Social Media alone is terrible at directly generating sales for your ecommerce business.

While Followers, Likes and Engagement look good, they don’t always translate into sales – at least not the regular flow of orders you need for a sustainable ecommerce business.

It’s fantastic when you are starting out – with no budget but plenty of time you can use it to get those first important sales. But it’s not easy to scale as you grow. Most successful online retailers use a variety of marketing activities including Google Shopping ads and search optimisation.

Customers will pretty much expect you to be active on social media these days – especially if you sell lifestyle products in areas like fashion, interiors and weddings. And it’s great for creating awareness, building loyalty and getting feedback.

But you need to develop a social media strategy that’s integrated into your other marketing activities rather than expecting it to be your primary sales channel long term. Use social media to grow your email list and take advantage of targeted advertising and remarketing opportunities.

Conversion is key

Conversion rate – the proportion of your site visitors who actually make a purchase – is critical to the success of any online business. After all, getting visitors to your website is hard work and often expensive and if they don’t buy, all your efforts are wasted.

Get Google analytics with ecommerce tracking installed. This will give you masses of vital information about your visitors, how they found you and which of your marketing activities are most profitable. Use this to make adjustments to your products, marketing and website.

Make sure it is ridiculously easy to buy from your store – whether on a desktop computer or a smartphone. Ask your friends and family to make trial purchases and give you honest feedback.

In Summary

  • Identify your target customer and why they should buy from you
  • Don’t cut corners on photographs and product descriptions
  • Create a marketing plan that can grow with your business
  • Focus on turning browsers into buyers

Of course you also need to have fabulous products, competitive prices and back it up with impeccable customer service! 

Getting Started With Online Selling - Alison Wren - Guest Post - Collectively Caitlin - Business Coach
Getting Started With Online Selling - Alison Wren - Guest Post - Collectively Caitlin - Business Coach

About

After a career in IT, Alison Wren escaped corporate life to set up a DIY wedding stationery ecommerce business. Over 7 years she built that business to a 6 figure turnover with 6 staff and a custom fitted workshop and warehouse before selling up in 2011. Alison now works as a marketing consultant and writes a blog for wedding business owners Wedding Business Success (http://weddingbusinesssuccess.com/)

You can follow Alison on Twitter https://twitter.com/wedbizsuccess and Facebook https://www.facebook.com/WedBizSuccess

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Business Plan For 2017

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Business Plan For 2017

Business Plan For 2017 - Productivity and Growth Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach - Collectively Caitlin

2017 is here! And in full swing! It's time to make some big plans! So today I want to give you some topics I want you to consider when making your 2017 plans!

Finances

What are your financial goals for 2017? Is there an income goal you want to hit? A loan you want to pay off? A certain amount you want to donate to charity? How much do you plan on spending every month? Will you need to hire on more help this year? Make a plan now! 

Launches

What projects do you want to launch this year? Get them on the calendar now so they don't sneak up on you! Make sure you give yourself enough time to put the finishing touches on it and to also to prep your audience to take the plunge on those launches as well! 

Marketing

What kind of marketing are you planning on doing? Did you find some strategies that worked last year? Some that didn't? What are you going to do this year similarly or differently? 

Content

How often do you want to be producing content? On what topics? Are they leading people to your money making offers? What form will your content be in? Blog posts, videos, Facebook posts, etc. For me I am still a blog focused gal but I plan on making more videos in 2017!

Education

What classed do you want to take? What conferences do you want to go to? How are you going to further educate yourself this year? I know I will be hitting up the Yellow Conference as an attendee but I will also be speaking at The Reset Conference and Tassels & Truffles retreat! I hope to see you all there!

Hiring Out

What do you plan on outsourcing this year? Maybe taking on a VA or an accountant. Or hiring a business coach to help you through 2017? Take a peek at my services page and see if any of those sound like plans for 2017! Or join my email list by clicking free downloads and then you will get my free resources guide for all sorts of business services!

These are just a few things to think about as you plan out 2017! What's your biggest goal for the year? I would love to hear! Is there a topic I didn't mention? I'd love to hear the topics you are planning on! 

XOXO

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Interview With Ashley Beaudin | Founder Of #TheImperfectBoss

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Interview With Ashley Beaudin | Founder Of #TheImperfectBoss

Interview With Ashley Beaudin - Founder Of #TheImperfectBoss - Business Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Collectively Caitlin

Hi friends! I am so excited to be interviewing one of my favorite entrepreneurs today! Not only is she a dear friend but an amazingly inspiring woman! This interview with Ashley Beaudin will give you a little more insight behind the wonderful mind that created #TheImperfectBoss campaign and the woman responsible for inspiring and encouraging women day in and day out! So let's get started!

Tell me about yourself!

Holla, my name is Ashley! And I am heart eyes all the time for empowering women to bring their gifts to the world. I do coaching for heart-led entrepreneurs, speaking and I am also known for The Imperfect Boss movement that I started.

How did your business begin? 

I first got my toes wet in the online business world in 2011 when I started my first online community that was all about empowering women to overcome the lies they struggle with such as not feeling beautiful, worthy or enough. Ever since then, I’ve been hooked on the momentum and energy that can be created when women come together in a big way.

What is The Imperfect Boss campaign and how did it start?

The Imperfect Boss is a movement that started with three-day social media campaigns where I mobilize hundreds of women to post confessions on social media of what it really looks like to be your own boss, aka, it is messy and all sorts of good. It is both. It came to me after scrolling through Instagram and feeling so flooded with the images of perfection that looked nothing like my life. I thought to myself, “man everyone sure has it together!” And then I knew if i I felt this way, there were so many more who felt the same. So, I decided to do something.

Where are you taking this movement in the future?

I am so excited for where we are headed! The campaign will run three times in 2017 and there will be lots of sweet surprises mixed in there. I am all-in to cultivate a community of imperfect women who are changing the world with their gifts.

How can people get involved?

Jump into the next campaign! It is running from February 20th to 22nd and you’re totally invited. It is time to share your imperfect and know that those things don’t make you weak, they make you powerful and they give you community.

What is your best bit of advice for someone who is running their own business?

My biggest advice to anyone is to cut down the noise. Seriously, cut down the noise. The noise of what everyone else is doing, the noise of what everyone says you should be doing and the noise of even what the people around you are telling you to do. Cut down the noise and embrace the quiet of your own heart. Find out what you’re really after. And let nothing stop you from getting it.

If you could eat one snack for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Donuts. I mean, how is this even a question? Sprinkle, maple, bring em’ on.

Interview With Ashley Beaudin - Founder Of #TheImperfectBoss - Business Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Collectively Caitlin
Interview With Ashley Beaudin - Founder Of #TheImperfectBoss - Business Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Collectively Caitlin

Ashley is the bomb.com! I highly recommend you follow her on social media and check out her services! 

Ashley Beaudin Website - Facebook - Instagram - Twitter - Pinterest

#TheImperfectBoss Website - Instagram

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Beauty In Differences In Business

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Beauty In Differences In Business

Beauty In Differences In Business - Productivity And Growth Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach - Collectively Caitlin

I, like I am sure many of you are, am a member of about 100 + Facebook groups for business owners. haha! Okay, it might not be quite that many. But it is a lot! 

The Post

So recently in a normal scroll down my Facebook feed I stumble across a post in one of these groups that stops me in my tracks. I don't remember the author and even if I did I would never share something directly without express permission. But this person was passionately talking about how she only liked people who thought like her. And she was very passionate and even pretty harsh going as far to use vulgar name calling for people who had differing opinions than her. (While I am not known for having the cleanest mouth I still try to keep it clean on the blog and when working so that everyone can feel welcome! So I will not share her exact words.) And she kept reiterating essentially that people who thought differently were horrible people. 

What struck me about this too is that the topics she was talking about weren't things that I would consider being mainstream beliefs. The topics were pretty controversial and likely those that agreed with here were probably fairly few and far between. And while I actually agreed with the premise of a lot of her opinions, I couldn't get behind her because I don't believe that people who think differently are less smart or less nice or any of the words she used to say so. She went as far as to say she hated people who thought any different. Ah!

I just wanted to yell! "Hated?! How can you hate people you don't know?! How can you be so firm in your opinions that you block others out?! How can you discredit the people with other life experiences and opinions?!" Again, her opinions on their own were valid. But the way she felt about other opinions was not. 

This actually truly worries me that maybe women in business feel this way. That the way they think is right and will always be right and no one else's opinions are valid. This is so dangerously arrogant! So dangerous! Not only can this kind of thinking hurt your business but it can hurt your personal growth! So I want to talk about that with you guys today! And how we can change that narrative in our own businesses! Because I am confident that we all have some things that we probably aren't as good at listening to other people opinions on. So let's work through this together. 

Hurt Your Personal Growth:

When you aren't listening to other opinions or understanding that those opinions are just as valuable as yours, you are missing out on an opportunity to learn something new from another perspective. Our life experiences shape our opinions. It's just a fact. But we can grow our opinions by learning from others. We allow ourselves to think we know everything or are right about everything when we don't value other life experiences or listen to them. And we would never want anyone to think that of our opinions or life experiences. I don't mean we have to agree with everything someone else believes. But we have to see their opinions as just as valuable and valid because theirs were born out of their experiences just as yours were. 

Help Your Personal Growth:

Encourage discussions with differences in a non-judgmental and non-confrontational way. It's totally possible to have great discussions with someone who thinks very differently than you! My husband and I affiliate ourselves with different political parties. But we are still able to have great conversations about politics together because we understand we are both adding value to the conversations. I am not saying you should start off with a political discussion because those can get pretty heated. But starting a conversation among your friends or within your community on anything controversial can be so healthy for you and those around you! Give it a try!

Hurts Your Business

When you aren't valuing others opinions or learning about other people's experiences you are hurting who are able to reach out to and connect with. Even if you aren't as extreme as the woman I mentioned before, your lack of openness can close you off to a lot of chances to meet new people and learn new things and work on your business being open for all! 

Help Your Business

Join diverse communities. Engage in conversations other on all sorts of topics. Keep an open mind. Share your opinions with openness and grace. Share your heart! Don't demean other people because of the differences!

You really can have an inclusive business! Stretch yourself and your business! Consider how to factor this into your plan for 2017! One person I know that is really making waves as she talks about diversity and about putting yourself in situations for growing is Monique Melton! She is running a killer Facebook group all about it! It's called Shine Brighter Together (and no, the post I mentioned before was not in her group! haha!) and you can view her site at www.MoniqueMelton.com  She is an amazing resource for diversity in business! Check it out!

XOXO

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Project Finish: The Only Planner You Will Need For 2017

Project Finish: The Only Planner You Will Need For 2017

Hi friends! Let me preface this by letting you know that this is not a sponsored post. I am not an affiliate. I am just speaking straight from what I believe about this planner! 

As most of you know, I am an A type, organized, planner, kind of person. So I already love when I pick out and fill in a new planner at this time of the year! But this year I am way more excited than normal! Like WAY more excited! And that's because, Deneen has basically designed a planner that even my A type organized mind couldn't have dreamed of! The Project Finish Planner

Project Finish: The Only Planner You Will Need For 2017
Project Finish: The Only Planner You Will Need For 2017

Weather you are an organized person like me, or not, this planner will help you stick to your goals all year long! It keeps those goals in front of you, has pages to help you break them down into smaller actionable steps, encourages you year round, and has room for anything your heart could desire to work on in 2017! 

This isn't just for entrepreneurs! This planner is great for homeschool moms, people planning on running a marathon, keeping track of household projects, seriously, and great for students to keep track of assignments! It is seriously the complete planner for EVERYONE!

Project Finish: The Only Planner You Will Need For 2017
Project Finish: The Only Planner You Will Need For 2017

This planner will help you make sure those New Years resolutions are kept year round! 

Plus it has two beautiful colors! The black and gold is my favorite but the gradient blue is beautiful too! 

I don't think I have ever been THIS excited about a planner! You seriously need one of these! 

Project Finish: The Only Planner You Will Need For 2017
Project Finish: The Only Planner You Will Need For 2017

I believe in this planner so much that I am buying one for anyone and everyone who books my VIP package or Reset package before December 31st 2016! So contact me today if you want one of these amazing planers for FREE!

Other wise you can learn more about the planner here: http://www.louyella.com/

Purchase here: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2113478485/project-finish-the-finishers-playbook

Follow on FB here: https://www.facebook.com/louyella/

Follow on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/louyella/

Follow on Twitter here: https://twitter.com/louyella

Do you have a planner that you are crushing on too this year? Share it with everyone in the comments below!

Project Finish: The Only Planner You Will Need For 2017
Project Finish: The Only Planner You Will Need For 2017

XOXO

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No Two Business Coaches Alike

No Two Business Coaches Alike - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach - Collectively Caitlin

There are a million and one business coaches out there. I am in no way ignorant of the fact that I am in a very saturated market! But I want to talk about why this is such a beautiful market and if you're looking for a coach, I promise there is one out there for you! 

First and foremost, business coaches generally have one thing that they focus on. Mine is productivity. Getting more done by working less. That's my focus area and it kind of covers a lot of different aspects. But another coach may focus on building sales funnels, another focusing on building marketing strategies, another on content creation, another on building your heart into your business, and all of these can be full of so much value! Yes, there are some "fakes" out there. I think the easiest way to spot this is by anyone who makes crazy big promises, and anyone who has never run a business themselves. If someone has never run a business I really don't believe that they can really speak to your business needs and struggles as someone who has. But that is just a personal opinion. 

Honestly, as overwhelming as all of the business coach options are, I think it is AMAZING! I mean anything I want to work on in my business, I can find someone who specializes in teaching that! I have worked with a couple amazing women and learned so much under their teaching! 

Because of how much overwhelm there is around picking the right business coach for your business, I created this free download for you! This free worksheet will help you work through exactly what you need from a coach for you and your business! Then you can take this download and search the online coaching marketplace with confidence! 

Click Here To Download

What do you struggle with most in your business right now? Would a coach be beneficial to help you make changes with that? Share in the comments!

You might also like: How To Get The Most Out Of Your Coaching Session

XOXO

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10 Tips For Building SEO - Guest Post

10 Tips For Building SEO - Guest Post - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach

Develop Your Strategy First

SEO is all about strategy. You cannot just begin “doing” SEO, which is how many people like to phrase it. SEO is similar to baking a cake in that you have to know what kind of cake you want to end up with before you start putting ingredients together.

When optimizing your site for SEO, decide on what you want to rank in search engines for. For example, say you sell baby strollers. Ideally, you want to rank for “baby strollers”. But that’s a very general term. Instead, focus on something specific that your ideal buyer would search. If you sell locally, choose something like “baby strollers in Miami” or if you sell very expensive, high quality baby strollers, start with “best high quality baby strollers”.

Eliminate concepts and keywords that don’t apply to your audience. Because you sell pricey strollers, things like “how to save on baby strollers” or “how to find a good deal on a baby stroller” may not appeal to your audience to whom quality is more important than price.

Once you have your keywords chosen, get even more specific. Develop a list of things people may search when in the market for a new baby stroller. We call these long tail search terms. Here are some examples:

  • What makes a good high quality baby stroller?
  • What should a high quality baby stroller be made of?
  • Best features for a high quality baby stroller?
  • How much should I pay for a high quality baby stroller?

Now that you have a good main keyword and some long-tail search terms that contain your main keyword, you can start optimizing your website.

Have SEO Optimized Your Images

Every image you upload to your site should be named properly. Instead of IMG_23455.png or stroller.png, name them with your main keyword and then details so you can differentiate between photos. For example, if you have a red, blue, and pink stroller available, you might want to name them “best high quality baby strollers - red.png”, “best high quality baby strollers - blue.png”, and “best high quality baby strollers - pink.png” respectively.

If you are uploading one of those photos to a blog post page called “What Makes a Good High Quality Baby Stroller?”, your image name should be something like “best high quality baby strollers - what makes a good high quality baby stroller.png”. This may seem long, but it will tell search engines that everything on this page, even the images, are relevant to your topic. Remember that Google wants to show the most relevant search results possible and so you should have at least one image on every page of your site.

It’s also important to add your keyword to the ALT tag for the image. In your image editor within your site, you should have the option to change this.

Follow The Content Best Practices

When writing content for your site, it’s important to keep your SEO in mind. Here are some guidelines to writing strong SEO enabled copy for each page of your site, including blogs, your homepage, your contact page, product pages, about pages, etc.

  • Include your keyword in your page titles and page URLs if possible
  • Have subheadings and at least one bulleted or numbered list on each page
  • Each page should have a minimum of 300 words on it.
  • Within your copy, your keyword should appear 4-5 times
  • Make sure your keyword appears within the first paragraph of your copy.
  • Included bolded and/or italicized text in your copy.

Links, Links, Links

You want to tell search engines that all the pages of your site build off of and are relevant to each other. It seems obvious, but you want to build a site that flows from page to page and that has content that connects. To accomplish this, include a link on every page within the copy that goes to another page on the site.

For example, for every blog post, you should link to one of your products somehow. If you’re talking about what makes a baby stroller safe, maybe link to a page you have about how safe your strollers are. And on that page, you should link to the blog post about what makes a baby stroller safe. A linked connection between the two pages makes each of their SEO stronger.

You should also work to build external connections from other sites to yours. Don’t just always link to your homepage. When posting on social media or publishing press releases, link back to inner pages where some of your most compelling sales copy is. This is considered off-page SEO and can be time consuming, but very rewarding.

User Proper Meta Descriptions and Titles

Meta descriptions and titles tell search engines what each of your pages is about. When you search on Google, the text that comes up are the titles and descriptions for the pages you’re being offered. Platforms like WordPress offer plugins that allow you to edit your titles and descriptions.

Your keywords should appear at the beginning (if possible) of your titles and descriptions. Your titles should be between 50 and 60 characters long. Your descriptions should between 120 and 160 characters long and you shouldn’t have duplicate ones; each page should have a unique description.

Pay Attention to URL Structure

Each web page URL should look something like this: http://miamibabystrollers.com/why-our-baby-strollers-are-the-best instead of something like: http://miamibabystrollers.com/?p=2473543. While they may both go to the same page, the former has your keyword in it and immediately tells people what type of content is on that page. Your website builder should give you an option to edit this (for example, on Wordpress, once you log in to your Dashboard you can go to Settings > Permalinks to edit this.)

Build Your Site With the Best Tools You Can

Good SEO starts from the very beginning. Most people agree that WordPress is the best platform for SEO rich sites. Other platforms can accomplish fantastic SEO goals too, but may take much more time and work. With plugins like Yoast and All in One SEO, you can accomplish everything described above with simple controls and zero coding.

Let’s review!

Next time you’re working on your site, make sure to follow these tips:

  1. Develop your keyword strategy with your ideal audience in mind.
  2. Name your images according to your strategy.
  3. Include an image on every page.
  4. Update your image ALT tags.
  5. Have SEO optimized page copy.
  6. Link your inner pages to each other.
  7. Link back to your pages from other places.
  8. Have SEO optimized meta descriptions and titles.
  9. Use proper URL structure.
  10. Use the best tools possible.
10 Tips For Building SEO - Guest Post - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach
10 Tips For Building SEO - Guest Post - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach

Author Bio:

Allie is an all around Internet marketing enthusiast. If she had to pick one profession, it would be web designer since designing and building marketing sites is her favorite thing to do. But she loves the entire world of online marketing, from SEO to social media marketing to content creation. Her freelance business is built around affordability, education, and quality results for everyone, no matter their experience level.

Follow along with Allie:

Website:allienimmonscreative.com

(I offer SEO audits here: http://allienimmonscreative.com/website-and-seo-audits/

Facebook:facebook.com/allienimmonscreative

Instagram:instagram.com/allienimmonscreative

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Guest Posting: Why You Should And How

Guest Posting: Why You Should And How - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach - Collectively Caitlin

Guest posting is an often forgotten way of getting your business name out there. Especially if you are also a blogger! It's a brand new audience to share your knowledge and expertise with! For free! It's essentially free advertising! It's also a great way to meet other business owners and bloggers in your industry! So there ya have! There is our why!

Now onto the how. 

Find Someone With A Similar Audience

Finding a blogger or business owner with a similar audience is key! Because if their readers wouldn't care about what you sell, then there isn't much of a point. You want their readers to be potential clients or customers. But don't look for someone who does the exact same thing as you. Then it will look like you are trying to steal their audience. Not cool. Just similar. Finding a good fit is key! Just because they accept guest posters doesn't mean that you guys are a good match. 

Share Valuable Content

Come up with some blog post ideas. Get those written out. Make sure it's something that is helpful to their readers! Helpful content will encourage their readers to click on your links and follow you as well! 

Just Ask

A lot of bloggers and business owners accept guest posters! I try to have one every Tuesday! Just reach out and share your idea for a post! Make sure you already have an idea in mind. Many will be accepting! Some don't, and that's okay. Just move onto the next one. (If you are ever interested in guest posting with me and want to write about your business know-how, then just shoot me an email at caitlin@collectivelycaitlin.com ) 

Do Not:

Do not use their blog to give a sales pitch to their readers. You want to add value to their site, not be spammy all over your post. Don't send them a post all about how amazing you are. Don't reuse a post you used on your own site or for another guest post. It's horrible for the SEO of both to have identical text. 

Share the post

A guest post should be mutually beneficial! I share the post on your social media platforms and make sure to tag them. Also create a blog post on your own site that contains a short introduction to your guest post and a link to direct them there.  

And there ya go! You are going to gain so much viability by following these steps and you will make some new blogger and business friends! Now go start finding people to write for and get those ideas written out!

XOXO

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Learning To Delegate - Guest Post

Learning To Delegate - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach - Collectively Caitlin

Learning To Delegate 

Over thanksgiving, as I told my husband how to properly mash the potatoes {because the way he was doing it was stupid}, my mom chimed in and said "Haven't you learned by now that Kristin's way is always the right way?" I've always been a control freak, I take that a compliment. In fact, it is what makes me think I will excel in business. I take command of situations in front of me. But it has also been a thorn in my side.

I started photography {as a hobby} in 2013, got serious and started weddings in 2014, and in 2015 I added my husband to the team. He was first an assistant, and then a second shooter, and is now a very integral part of the business. Having him on my side has been very helpful. He photographs the groomsmen when I'm with the bridesmaids, he balances our books, he makes sure our SEO is in tip top shape. But more than that, he has helped me to identify my areas of weakness {design}  and helped me to allow someone else to take them off my plate, so I can focus on the things I am good at {taking pictures}.

I never could have imagined how relieved I would feel being able to focus on photographing people, making connections, and even being able to reinvest my time back into education and just being creative. When I give myself the space to create, magical things happen, but the day to day stresses can often muffle that creativity.

The moral of the story here is identify the areas of your business that you don't do fabulously, or don't enjoy and ask someone else to do them. You could ask your spouse, a friend, your sister, get an intern- and they don't even have to be industry specific. If I were to get an intern, I might choose a graphic designer, or a business school senior. It doesn't have to cost money, but even if it does, the freedom and ability to do what you want and what you are good at will be well worth the dollars spent.

And you know, if you a really a business rock star, but its the household items that you don't have time to keep up on, or you don't enjoy {I don't like cooking}, hire a housekeeper, order pre-made meals delivered once a week, or get a dog walker.

What ever it is you need to do to be successful, do that.

xoxo

Kristin

Learning To Delegate - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach - Collectively Caitlin
Learning To Delegate - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach - Collectively Caitlin

Author Bio: 

Kristin is a 20-something wife, dog mom, and photographer in Columbus, Ohio. She married her high school sweetheart in 2008 and now is lucky enough to have him alongside her while photographing other sweethearts in love. Weddings and coffee are her jam, and she can school you in all the reception dances like the cha cha slide, wobble and cupid shuffle. .........

Website: www.614wedding.com

Instagram: @614wedding

Facebook: facebook.com/614wedding

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Tips For A More Productive Work Day

Tips For A More Productive Work Day - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Work From Home - Business Coach - Collectively Caitlin

For those of us who work from home, we all know the temptations. The temptations to just turn on one show on Netflix. To take a long lunch. To sleep in. Etc etc. And while those things are wonderful and the flexibility is part of why we decided to work for ourselves, it can also hold us and our businesses back big time! So let's talk about some tips that implementing will help us work way more efficiently!

Cut out distractions

No Netflix. Turn the notifications off of your phone. Getting notified/distracted every time someone likes on of your Instagram pictures will not help your business day. Shut that background noise out. 

Set work hours

I understand that sometimes our hours aren't super consistent. But some level of consistency will actually boost productivity. Let's say you aren't a morning person and plan on starting work at 11am every day. Make that the rule then. That you are going to start work at 11 everyday and end at 6pm. (Or whatever hours work for your life.) Once you have set hours, you are going to be more likely to get everything done before the end of the work day. If you already know that at 6 you are going to allow yourself Netflix and dinner and what not then you are going to hustle more during the work hours so you don't have to work through your Netflix time! You might even finish work early!

Allow yourself breaks

I know this sounds a little counterproductive. But we can all get so into our work that our heads are spinning and we don't remember why we opened that new tab on the internet anymore. It's okay to step away for 10 minutes. To go for a walk. To watch a silly youtube video. Or to grab a snack. Whatever it is you need to do to regain focus. Just make sure to set a time limit on how long you want to allow your break to be. Otherwise before you know it, it'll be 8pm and you've watched 354 youtube videos about cats.

Make a plan

What do you need to get done this week? Make a list of all the things that need to be done. As you sit down to work start with the big things or the dreaded things on the list first so you can spend the majority of your day and week on the more enjoyable things!

Minimize Email Checks

How many times do we check our email a day? Probably dozens and dozens if you're like me! I have limited my email checks to twice a day! I mean if I need to grab something from an email for work then of course I will sign in and do so. But new emails only get read in the morning when I first open my computer and then about an hour before I am done for the day so I can get any new emails answered before I end the day. It saves so much time in my workday to not get sucked into long email back and forth. 

These are just a few of the ways to get more done in less time. What are some tips you have implemented in your business? Share in the comments below!

XOXO

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How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Guest Post

How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach

How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think!

Many of you reading this are probably in the same category as me - a "solopreneur".  Maybe you also have a regular 9-5 job, or you're a mom, or you run more than one business, or all of the above.  For most of us, we have a lot of different roles to fill and a lot of different hats to wear.  Keeping track of all life's moving parts can be very overwhelming.  I currently run a home business and will soon be adding another job working remotely, so my schedule is very random and open-ended.  With great power comes great responsibility!

When Plans Meet Reality

We've all been there - you make a new plan for your business or home life.  You're so motivated!  Every aspect of your life is going to be completely organized, and your growth will be exploding by leaps and bounds!  But after the first week or two, reality sets back in.  You forget which business metrics you were going to track, because that super cute tracking sheet is in a stack on your desk somewhere.  You tried to write everything in this adorable planner you bought, but the pages didn't have enough space in the places you needed it.

Or maybe your business plan went perfectly but you forgot about dinner until it was too late to thaw the meat, so you ended up ordering pizza or buying a frozen lasagna and well, now your Healthy Eating plan failed before it ever took off.

Or maybe you're just tired of having 17 different notebooks and planners because you can't keep them all in your purse, so you don't have the one you want at the time you need it.  And you don't want to keep everything in your phone, because you're a pen and paper kinda gal and everytime you unlock your phone, 45 minutes go by and you forget why you picked it up in the first place....or is that just me?  

I've struggled with all these issues and more.  None of the planners I ever bought had all the features I needed - and the ones that did?  They were expensive, or they were too bulky and came along with a ton of features that were useless to me.  Desperate for some way of tracking my tasks, I simply started writing a list every day.  This was great, except sometimes I would lose my list.  Or I wouldn't finish everything (because once you start writing down tasks, you just can't stop) and would then feel like a failure.  I tried the "un-list" to combat that problem - instead of writing a to-do list, I built a list of the things I actually did as the day went on.  This felt great, but it turned out to be more of an affirmation than a planning tool.

Finally, I hit up Pinterest and came upon the concept of Bullet Journaling .  It was a great concept, and I was hooked.  Ultimately, however, it became too complicated.  Designing my own planner was great in theory, but it took so much time that after setting up my first month's bullet journal, I never did map out a new one.  Additionally, there were so many beautiful examples on Pinterest that I kind of just turned it into an art project.  Like so many other things, it actually MADE more work for me, rather than saving time and making my life easier.  What to do?!

The method I hit on, and the only method that has consistenly made my life easier, is a simplified version of the Bullet Journal.  Really, it's a glorified list...or collection of lists.  And the best part is, you can get started for all of about $1.

Step 1: Get the supplies

Go to Walmart and pick up a spiral-bound graph book:

How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach
How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach

The biggest reason to go spiral-bound is that it will always lay flat when opened, and you can rip out pages without it getting ugly! Another benefit of using a cheap notebook?  You don't have to feel bad if you write something in it that isn't ~inspirational~.  The biggest reason to use graph paper is that you can really use the whole page - you can create grids or blocks or checklists anywhere.

Optional:  Get movable adhesive tabs.  I didn't use them at first but they are very helpful.

Step 2: Set it up

On the first page, write out your big-picture goals.  

You'll also want to make an outline of weekly task rotations. The more things you can assign to a specific weekday, the less you'll have to remember.

How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach
How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach

An overview of the month that you will refer to when making your weekly or daily lists (This doesn't have to be in chronological order - add dates as you think of them):

How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach
How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach

A brain dump sheet is key for organizing your thoughts.  Everything can be written here as you think of it, and then you can take items from this master list and put them on your other lists.  When you fill up the brain dump sheet, just rip it out and start a new one later in the notebook.

How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach
How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach

Each night, you'll quickly sketch out the following day.  For me personally, almost all of my work is done at home and almost all of my deadlines are self-imposed.  This sounds great, but it can actually be a major problem.  The two biggest dangers are 1) nothing specifically needs to be done RIGHTNOW, so nothing gets done at all, or 2) I focus on my own work for way too long and neglect my home responsibilities, or never give myself free time (because the list is never done, am I right?).

Here is an example of how I break down my daily planning page.  Currently, my personal goals are to drink more water, be more present-minded about my spending, exercise 3x weekly, and practice having specific "work hours" at home.  My page reflects all of those goals.  I give myself time blocks to complete my different lists, and I keep it very simple and specific.  Each night when I make my list, I put dots next to the top 6 most important things that simply must be accomplished the next day.  Those are what I work on first.  If one of the other items doesn't get completed, I simply note an arrow next to it, and it goes on the next day's list.  No shame!

How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach
How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach

DON'T SAY: Clean the kitchen

DO SAY: Load the dishwasher, clean counters, sweep/mop

Break it down!  There's nothing so demoralizing as working for 3 hours and still not being able to cross off an item on your list.  Each item you cross off is a WIN and fuels you for the rest of your list!

The rest of the notebook is completely flexible to YOUR personal needs.  If you are the journaling type, you can do that in between your lists.  If you go to a meeting and want to take notes?  It can go in this notebook.  Need to make a grocery shopping list?  You can do it here. Any time you make a page that you know you'll need to refer back to frequently, give it a tab. This notebook is your ONE home for everything you need to keep track of.

What else can you do with it?

You can customize pages to fit your own personal needs, but here are some examples from mine:

  • list of dinner ideas for when I do my weekly menu plan
  • books I want to read
  • crochet projects I'm working on or that I want to start
  • tracking sheet/check-off grid for tasks that are recurring monthly
  • a tracking sheet for my social media followers and online accounts
  • a tracking sheet for my monthly sales
  • an outline of my personal health goals
  • list of ideas for business social media posts

This notebook method seems almost stupidly simple, and yet it's so thorough that it will become your brain's external hard drive.  Everything you need to remember will always be in one place for easy access.  If you are already using tracking sheets or printables, just staple or tape them onto a blank page!  

I hope this planning method is helpful to you.  It has made an astronomical difference in my day to day life!  Now go out there and be a boss!

How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach
How to Build a Planner that Works for You: it's easier than you think! - Collectively Caitlin - Productivity Coach For Creative Entrepreneurs - Business Coach

Author Bio:

Melissa is a 27-year-old born and raised in Washington state who is addicted to beauty products and all things organization.  She's an Air Force wife with a degree in Psychology who dreams of one day being a homeschool mom.  Melissa started her Mary Kay business fresh out of college in 2011, and loves finding new ways to add value to her clients while enjoying the freedom of being a small business owner. She's a rule-follower at heart but mostly wants to follow her OWN rules!  She currently lives in New Mexico with her husband of 3 years, Erik.

Facebook:  www.facebook.com/mk.melissawittig

Instagram: @mk.melissawittig

Shop: www.marykay.com/melissawittig

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