Elayne Whitfield, BA, MVA ~ VA Industry ExpertSubscribe Now

Tips for Sharing Your Unique Voice and Vision with the World

Colourful image of person singing or speakingYour blog, website, email newsletters, social media posts and other means by which you communicate with the world is how you share your voice, vision and perspectives. The ideas presented on these platforms are unique to you and this should be clearly reflected to your audience. If you want to stand out from your competition, there are many things you can do to separate yourself from the ordinary.

* Blog Regularly - The first thing you need to know about getting your vision and voice out into the world is that you need to do it regularly. Blog regularly, update social media regularly, appear as a guest regularly, and take every opportunity you can to be yourself representing your personal brand.

* Mix up the Formats - A blog doesn’t have to be text based. It can be in the form of infographics, memes, podcasts, videos and more. Use every content format that you can as long as it fits within your brand and the image you want to portray to your audience. Re-purpose content into new forms to get the word out to more people.

* Create a Plan of Action - The content that you create should have a purpose. The best way to ensure that the purpose matches your goals is to develop a plan that you will use across all channels; one that encompasses all promotions planned and events scheduled. Additionally, your plan can include current events and updated news if you’re ready.

* Understand Your Niche - You can never study your niche enough. Devote some of your time each week to understanding who your audience is and should be, inside and out. Study the history of your industry as well as what is happening today and what might happen in the future. Keeping your ear to the ground will make you a go-to expert in your niche and will keep your blog current.

* Know Your Audience - While you do want to add your own vision and voice, it’s also important to understand how far you can go without upsetting your core audience. For example, if you start a blog for people who are vegans and then change your mind, that’s okay, but realize that you’re going to change your audience entirely as well as the focus of your blog and this could disrupt what you have already established.

* Don’t Be Afraid to Be You - One of the most wonderful aspects of being online is the ability to be free to be yourself. You will find support and belonging for any lifestyle but you’ll also find detractors. To be truly authentic you cannot worry too much about your detractors. Put your audience and your true self first and foremost all the time.

* Be Consistent Across all Channels - Whether it’s your blog or a social media channel, it’s important that you keep the same flavor, voice, and vision apparent in each space. This will make you appear more trustworthy and help your audience get to know you even better.

* Engage Authentically with your Audience - Outside of blog posts, social media posts and other forms of content that you put out into the world, there are also discussions and comment sections in which you can engage. Be yourself when you interact with your audience, too. They want to know what you really think and this is a great way to do so.

Each blog post or other content platform that you send out into the world is important all on its own. Content spreads your message, establishes you as an expert, and drives traffic through keywords and more. Each deserves the attention called for to bring your unique voice and vision to them.

Even if you hire someone to write for you as a ghostwriter, it’s important that you edit the content to bring more of yourself to the blog. Whether it’s a sign-off phrase you want to use, or a special way with words that impacts your readers, be yourself. What matters is that you’re consistently yourself no matter where the content appears.

How to Find Your Place in an Entrepreneur World

Business people standing in front of map of the worldDeciding to become an entrepreneur is just the beginning of a major life change. The idea of owning your own business and controlling your schedule excites you, but you’re not yet sure exactly what it is that you should do. Thankfully, by answering the following questions you can narrow down your choices and find your place in the entrepreneur world.

What are your interests?
While you don’t need to be an expert in the business you choose in order to start, it will help you get ahead of the game if you have some interest in the field already. And if you have a passion for it, even better.

How much starting capital do you have?
Don’t panic if you have nothing saved up to get started, but it’s important to be accurate and know what you have before you begin. Figure out if there are things you can sell quickly to gather some money to get you going. If you have a number in mind then you’ll know which business ideas are out of bounds and which ones you can truly make happen. This is not the time for pie-in-the-sky thinking, this is a time for being realistic.

What skills do you have?
Even if you’re not sure yet what you want to do, identify the skills that you have. Do you enjoy people? If so, what kind of people do you like the most and who would you like working with the most? Often, starting with your target audience is the best way to choose a business. If you can narrow down your skill level and the type of people you want to work with, you will get far in choosing a business start-up idea.

What skills can you buy?
When you start a business it’s important to realize that you cannot (and should not) do everything. If your budget is super tight you might have to start with what you know instead of what you can buy. However, knowing what you can buy will help you imagine the future as your business grows.

What skills should you learn?
If you’ve realized you have holes in your skill level, are they skills you can easily learn? If something has come to mind that needs licensure, how difficult is it to get? How long will it take? What will it cost? How will you get to the classes; are they online or offline?

What resources do you have?
Some of the resources you already have might include a computer, internet access, and even your skills and people that you know. Make a list of any resource, be it a person, place, or thing that can help you reach your business ownership goals.

What resources do you need?
As you listed the resources that you have, you likely came up with some resources you do not have but need to get. Don’t panic; just make the list and think about listing them in order from "must have" to just "want to have."

What type of personality do you have?
Are you reclusive? Do you enjoy spending long hours in front of your computer or would you like to do something that is more active? Do you like being with a certain type of person? Are you a morning person or a night person? When you identify how you work best and whom you work best with, it will help narrow down your choices.

What is your risk toleration level?
Everyone has a certain level of risk aversion. One way to look at it is to ask: how much can you stand to lose without destroying your marriage, losing your home, or giving up time with your children? If you have a low tolerance for risk, you may not want to become a day trader.

How much time do you have to devote?
If you currently have a job that you have to go to and are just wanting to start a business part time, it’s important to identify how much time you can realistically devote to getting a business off the ground at the moment. Even if it’s just two hours a night after dinner, that is something you can do to start a business. But, the amount of time along with the other information you’ve gathered here will help narrow down your choices.

Answering these questions can help you determine the area you should enter into as an entrepreneur. Giving the next steps after your self-evaluation a lot of thought and consideration as you craft a plan of action will ensure your success in the long term.

Five Online Business Optimization Strategies

word strategy with magnifying glassRunning a business online gives entrepreneurs an incredible chance to expand and scale their operations. Where offline businesses require a physical presence, online businesses can operate entirely with virtual storefronts and digital real estate. Expanding online is also much simpler and bringing your business to new heights can be achieved without the need for expensive outlets and physical locations.

Still, there are a few major errors that first-time online entrepreneurs tend to make when they scale their businesses. From expanding too quickly to moving in all the wrong directions, the road to running a large-scale online business is paved with potential potholes. These five strategies are designed to help you achieve worthwhile business optimization while taking your business to new heights without endless difficulties and setbacks.

1. Stick to the 80/20 Principle

Pareto's Principle -- known as the 80/20 principle -- dictates that 80% of your returns -- in this case, business profits -- will come from just 20% of your actions. Your goal in running an internet business is not to do as much as you can, but rather to achieve as much as you can. Focus on the ultra-profitable 20% of clients/customers, and eliminate as much of the fluff as you possibly can.

2. Whenever possible, add products to service businesses

Service businesses are a good short-term model, but as a long-term earning option on their own, they are not the best. The main issue with service businesses is the lack of scalability and long-term earnings potential. By running a service business, you are essentially tying a value to your time and working from that alone. It is a more effective strategy to create a product and use your time to amplify its sales.

3. Package and sell your information

Informational products are a major hit, especially in the online world. From guides on mastering online business to simple how-to sets for learning a new skill, informational products make up a huge percentage of online sales. If you have skills that would otherwise only be valuable in a service business, why not package them into an informational product that you can sell online?

4. Focus on marketing before you start your business

The make-or-break component of any online business is marketing. The internet is crowded, especially for small online businesses, and there is no chance to survive without a large customer or client base that knows how to find you. The world's most profitable companies are invested in marketing before they expand, and you should be too.

5. Set a value for your time, and don't waste it

You have set up your online business, invested in some manual and paid marketing presences, and you’ve started to earn over $100 a day. The only problem is that it is taking almost 12 hours to do it. There will be times, especially when running an online business, where you will rack up a reasonably impressive daily earnings total. Ignore it. Daily totals are deceiving and are not an accurate metric for judging online business success.

What is much more valuable is the amount of time that goes into that income. Set a minimum value for your time, and create an online business that gives you options on where to spend it. Sometimes services might be worthwhile, other times product-based work might be the best solution. Either way, set a minimum cost for an hour of your time and design a business that allows you to earn above it.

How to Decide What to Outsource First When Money is Tight

How to Decide What to Outsource First - ImageFor the independent entrepreneur, the demands on your time are often overwhelming from day 1. There are so many moving parts and things to do that there are never enough hours in the day. Even for the seasoned businessperson, it’s difficult to relinquish control of any part of their business. Still, every successful internet marketer has come to the point where they have had to outsource some of their business in order to take it to the next level.

How do you decide which things to outsource when you're ready, especially if cash is tight?

Before you even start to look for outsourcers, go through the following process:

Step 1. Make a list of all the tasks you hate to do

It doesn’t matter whether you’re good at it or not, if the task is something you truly dislike doing, then it’s a good candidate for outsourcing.

Step 2. Look at where you add value in your business

Make a list of tasks where you don't actually add much value. Examples could be formatting documents so they look nice for publishing or loading posts onto your blog from guest authors. If you’re not very good at writing, that’s a great opportunity to outsource also.

Step 3: Identify one-time activities

Are there any jobs in your business that just need to be done once, and then they’re complete? Those are great for outsourcing, too. For example, setting up a new blog and configuring it with plugins and themes is a one-time task that can be completed quickly by one person.

Step 4. Look at tasks that are easy to outsource first

The one-off tasks are usually the easiest to outsource first and help you avoid making a commitment to a longer term investment. However, if there are mundane activities you are doing that are taking time away from the true value-added parts of your business, then outsourcing these can help you grow your business by leaps and bounds. If you already know that your business is profitable and could expand if you only had the time, then it may be worth outsourcing basic ongoing tasks.

Step 5. Make some decisions and start your search

Organize your list of tasks to outsource into immediate, short term and longer term. What will you outsource right away vs. in a few months or a year? Once you've made a list of what you'd like to outsource, you'll be able to tell just what you need in terms of a real person. This often means hiring different people for different tasks since not everyone is good at everything. Get recommendations, search for people with good reputations on freelance sites, and make sure you always get samples of work. Finally, be sure to test someone before you commit a lot of money.

One of the most common statements by successful marketers is that they wish they’d outsourced sooner. However, it’s always easy to say something in hindsight. Take care to outsource wisely by making the most of your budget and testing your business model on a small scale first. Then, unless you want to drive yourself insane or only want a small income from your efforts, you will probably choose to outsource more tasks.

The Top 7 Time Management Tactics of Successful Internet Marketers

The Top 7 Time Management Tactics - ImageThe really successful internet marketers seem to get so much done in a small amount of time. To some degree, that's because they are doing the same thing over and over and they have it down to a science. However, they also follow some tried and true time management tactics to stay focused and make the most of every minute. Here are 7 top time management tips that will help you get more done every day, leading you to the success you deserve.

Tip 1. Schedule Your Work

Whether you are working on your business full time, part time, or sporadically, make sure you set aside specific time each day or week to focus on work. Put your personal life into a separate compartment that you can open at a different time in the day.

Tip 2. Chunk Everything

Break down your work into tasks and priorities for each day. You should identify 3 key things you want to accomplish that day, plus minor tasks that come second.

Tip 3. Time Yourself

It’s amazing how much faster you can work if you know you have a time limit. Allow yourself about 20 to 30 minutes to complete a specific task. Then use a timer to keep yourself honest. You’ll spend less time perfecting every little detail and more time just getting everything done. A kitchen timer works perfectly, or you can use a timer app or alarm on your smart phone or computer.

Tip 4. Go With Your Rhythms

Most people have a specific time of day when they are most productive and focused. Take advantage of your best time of day and schedule the work that requires your highest concentration for then.

Tip 5. Make a List

Creating a list of tasks is akin to developing an action plan. At the beginning of the week, preferably Sunday night, make a list of priority tasks that you need to complete by the end of the week. Put them in a logical order based on how big a difference they will make to the growth of your business. Also consider whether there are other people or tasks that depend on whether you get your part done.

Tip 6. Keep Your Momentum

Some people find it most effective to set aside specific types of tasks for different days of the week to take advantage of the momentum they gain focusing on one item. For example, do your keyword research on Mondays, email list building on Tuesdays, product development on Wednesdays, etc.

Tip 7. Put on Blinders

Block out everything except the task you need to get done. Shut down or close any other windows or applications except the one you’re working on. The elimination of distractions alone will help you get more done in a short space of time.

While not every one of these tactics will work for everyone, they are the top proven ones used by successful marketers. You'll hear them being recommended over and over again. That's because they work.