Or, it’s the best thing ever!
Here’s a quick preview of this week – it’s going to be huge:
- How to build a landing page that converts
- All the tech we’re using and how to pick what you need for your business
- Automation – putting your business on auto-pilot
- $100 startup – moving to PRO
Excited? Me too!
Overwhelmed? Oh, I forgot, not everyone is a complete nerd like me
Don’t worry, this will be technical where it needs to be and as layman’s as it can be – the apps, tools, and services we’ll look at are so simple, anyone that knows how to send a text message will be able to conquer them.
To get you started, I want to gauge where you are, who has a website? Regardless of whether you do or not, the one thing you can do right now to improve your business, increase your conversions, is create a landing page.
Even if you already have a website, open it up right now, take a step back from the computer and cross your eyes. Do it, I’ll wait…
Ok, so those of you with office-mates, are they snickering yet? Good. I’m enjoying that part.
But seriously – with your eyes crossed, can you find One Clear Action that you want your visitors to take?
You can uncross your eyes now.
I’ve been using SumoMe now on my WordPress sites and love it. It’s free and awesome. It’s #1 Goal – improve your sites conversions. It does this by giving you a whole heap of tools built in from list building, heat maps, content analytics, and more including a Landing Page app called Welcome Mat. It’s this landing page that is killing it for so many people.
Go check it out if you have a site already. For those of you who don’t have a site already, building a Landing Page is first cab off the rank for us tomorrow, so stay tuned.
We’ll also cover this on Monday night’s Periscope too, so if you haven’t followed me yet, do that and you will get notified when you can tune in. We also do Q&A, so feel free to let me know what your landing page url is and for those brave hustlers out there who want exposure in the form of feedback we can critique it live for you. Who knows, you might even pick up a customer or 3!?
[Day 2 Update] – This Week in Tech
What did we just learn?
I know I promised you that we would cover building a Landing Page today, but some of you pointed out that the Welcome Mat info from yesterday was enough to get started and others begged me to slow down and start at the beginning – so that’s what we’re going to do.
Let’s take a total stocktake of all the apps, tools, and services we use (and steer clear of) to make our business hum.
A couple of check points here on evaluating what you need for your business:
- Do you need it?
- Do you REALLY need it?
Now that I have reminded myself the most important check points, here are a few items to check yourself when applying tools to your business:
- Will this tool help automate something? This is number one on the list for good reason – automating business processes, as dry as that sounds, truly is the holy grail of growing your business. Wind back the hours a human has to spend on a task, especially one that isn’t directly tied to revenue and you can spend that time on creating revenue (or sleeping)
- Does this remove something manual? Similar to the above, an example would be a shipping tracker email. Before finding one of these, we were manually finding the Australia Post shipping link (once a package was posted – even harder to manage), and emailing customers with the link. Adding this tool saved HOURS of manual labour a week
- Is this tool/app consolidating 2 or more other tools we have? – that we can cull from our toolbox?
- Bootstrapping – how much does this cost? Opt for free and trial where you can. Almost every tool we’ve ever tested has had a freemium option where we try before we buy. Conversely, almost every tool we’ve purchased without testing has not hit the mark and we regretted the sale after – Test Your Tools!
Now, you might be thinking, do I need technology in my business? If you are, the answer is yes.
“I’m a carpenter” – shut up dad, how do you know when your next job is coming in? Stop going to the bank to deposit cheques!
“I’m not really tech savvy, do I need a website for my business?” – duh, yes! Do you want to be available 24/7 on your phone or at your front door? At least have a landing page!
Each of these tools serves a purpose and we’re constantly reviewing it against those criteria above. There are a few other periphery tools, but it’s more important to get going than get tools. Going down a rabitt hole with a new shiny toy will not put you on a path to success.
- WordPress. There are plenty of options around these days, but we went deep and the sheer size of the ecosystem (add-ons, plugins, themes, developers, etc) just makes this a clear winner for us, especially for first timers. They even have an app for your phone so you can publish (or fix up your errors – huhhmmm..) on the go.
- Mailchimp. Email is still the highest converting marketing strategy. The emails you all get from this [30 Day Challenge], all my courses, our online store campaigns, everything uses Mailchimp. It’s free to get started with up to 2000 subscribers. No brainer.
- Mailchimp for WordPress. Well, that one is obvious huh? Combining the first 2 on this list will give you everything you need for an amazingly powerful landing page (more on that tomorrow) and this plugin makes it super easy. The free option is all you need to get started NOW
- Studiopress – Genesis. Half of our 47 sites are on the Genesis framework. That means all the look and feel, along with the functionality, uses on of these beautiful themes.
- Themify – The other half of the sites you ask? These guys. A bit more flashy and better e-commerce integration.
- WooCommerce. Speaking of e-commerce, earlier this year Automattic, the company behind WordPress, bought out these guys, which means doubling-down on this platform for all my online stores was a super pick! (/pats self on back)
- Aust Post Calculator. (e-commerce only) Running an online store and shipping within Australia? This little gem uses the Australia Post api to calculate the best rate and helps you select what sort of box/parcel bag orders will fit into. Great for those late night packing adventures when your brain is mash potato
- Aftership. (e-commerce only) We’ve talked a little bit about automation already and this is the tool that has reduced hours of both the packing and shipping, but also off the customer service time as this offers real time updates on tracking items that customers can access themselves
- There are a few more plugins and tools we use, so if you want to know the exact list for a killer e-commerce store or fully-integrated affiliate blog, then jump on the email list and shoot us a note with what sort of site you are creating
- Social Media – in order of ROI for us
- Facebook. If you haven’t created a PAGE for your business, stop reading and go do that now. In week 4 we will cover the magic and wonder of Facebook dark posts (now just called ads), but let’s just say for now it’s 10x as powerful as the others…
- Instagram. Where attention goes, money flows. Not trying to sound all marketing-scammy here, but take a look around a crowded train in the afternoon – flick up, flick up, flick up, stop, flick up…that’s Instagram. It’s purchase by Facebook and newly released ad platform will make this the hottest network in town in no time. When we talk marketing in 2 weeks we’ll also deep dive into this one too and I’ll show you some quick tips to grow your following and create a new sales channel overnight
- Twitter/Periscope. I know. I know. I bang on about Periscope all the time, but come on, have you been on a good scope yet? (You’ll notice I didn’t say “my” scope there…I’m still learning!) Direct interaction with your audience is moving to video. As part of the experiment side of this [30 Day Challenge] I have been @ replying with a video thanking every single one of my new Twitter followers – it’s really making waves (more on that in this weeks recap)
- Buffer App. Grab a free account from these guys, their content marketing emails you get once a week or sometimes fortnightly are worth the 8 seconds it takes to create an account. Also, scheduling (read: automating) at least a couple of our social media articles in advance will let your marketing work while you sleep.
- Hootsuite. Probably the easiest way to manage multiple social media accounts in one place, but the killer-app for this is it’s ability to schedule Instagram posts.
- Pablo 2.0. From the guys at Buffer, creating images for each of your social media accounts in seconds. You could also use Canva. These guys are Aussie!
- Incorporator. Ready to go pro? Did you know you can create an internationally recognised, legally functioning Company in minutes from your PC right now? We’ve used these guys for every one of our businesses and so have many of our readers and members. Their process is smooth and simple and their helpful hints and detailed walkthroughs (if needed) contain everything you need to know to get yourself up and running in no time.
- Xero. Accounting isn’t everyone’s cup of tea (sorry to those number-junkies out there) and being successful at business requires you to double-down on your strengths – and delegate your weaknesses. An online accounting software has many bonuses including integration to whatever you are using to collect money from your customers (e-commerce software, paypal, your bank account – yes, many integrate directly with your bank!)
- Vistaprint. We’ve heard many horror stories from these guys, but after working out how to upload the right sized image (it’s not that hard), we have had no issues with them and we spend thousands a year with them. When our marketing gets comments like “Who did your flyer?” and “love these posters, which agency do you use?”, you know you’re onto a good thing.
That’s it. We built an online store, packing facility (an unused bedroom and a picnic table), an expo-ready marketing booth, and an online following that grew to over $20k a month in less than 6 months using those tools above.
Ok, I’ve sent you on enough of a yellow brick road for today, bookmark this list and just cherry pick the stuff you need right now to take action on your business.
Tomorrow we’ll create a simple but powerful lever to massively increase conversions (traffic turning into potential customers) on your website and ultimately your email list. See you then.
[Day 3 Update] – Build a Landing Page that Converts
By now I am hoping some of you have stepped up and grabbed a Domain Name. Remember we did that in Week 1?
Some of you did. (we’ll put up some links shortly)
Some of you may have wanted to, but didn’t because of “insert your usual special snowflake story here”. Oi! Do you want to reach your goal? Do you want that freedom? Do you want to get that thing inside you out and unleashed upon the world?
Ok, step down off the table Nathan.
Today, we walk through the simplest way to create a single page website, called a Landing Page.
What is a landing page?
You have 3-6 seconds to make an impression on your visitors and around 5 seconds more to make them do something before they lose interest and close the window.
It’s true that your website should be a true reflection of your business and showcase your products or services. Over time your content will determine how easy it is for people to find you when searching around (referred to as Search Engine Optimisation or SEO) but what if you’re just getting started or have no content yet? What if you have no idea how to create a website?
You can get started with just a single page. A Landing Page is a great way to test your ideas by providing your visitors with a single action to take when they get there, like joining your mailing list, buying your product, or downloading your app.
Anatomy of a Landing Page:
- Clear Headline – nuff said.
- Simple, clear, benefits-driven by-line – after the heading, usually the only other words that will be read are the by-line. If you want this to convert people, tell them what they can expect to get from you if they heed your call to action. Take a look at these by-lines and think about what the benefits would be
- “Join our mailing list” – more email in my inbox. Boo.
- “Download our detailed app on the iTunes store now” – another app and a hard one to learn. Boo.
- How about “Get our favourite 5 healthy smoothie recipes free” better.
- Nice Picture/Image – do you have a great product or service? Use that image. Are you building a tribe around you or your brand? Use a picture of yourself or your community. Need a little image help? Try Unbounce
- One Call To Action – the most important thing here is to get your audience to take action. Not 5 actions. Not 3 actions. 1 action. Don’t confuse people or give them options, just get them to do the one thing that will make a difference to your business. If that’s sign up to your email address, get them to enter that.
A note on call to actions for email: We like to talk to our customers and we are building a relationship, so we have updated our sign-up form to include a first name. This allows us to automatically capture a person’s name and then refer to them as that in our email’s to them. It’s a little touch, but our customers have told us they appreciate it.
With all these, taking action is the best thing you can do. Once you have your landing page up, you can start testing things.
- Try a new headline
- Change the picture
- Remove people’s name, just leave email
- Update the Call to Action button text
Have you joined the [30 Day Challenge] mailing list? If you have, today’s update contained a detailed walkthrough showing you the exact process to create a great looking Landing Page in just 5 minutes. Want access?
What if you already have a website? Do you have a clear call to action for your existing customers showing them exactly what you want them to do when they come to your site?
You saw earlier this week an intro to Welcome Mat. A super easy was to add a great looking, highly converting landing page component to any website, even an existing one.
Need some inspiration? (or Landing Page P0Rn!) – check this fantastic site out
[Day 4 Update] – Techno Scope!
It’s been an action-packed week.
Let’s keep that momentum going. How are your landing pages coming along? Increased your email subscribers yet?
Tonight we jump on Periscope again and this time we’ll talk Technology.
A few of you asked if we could step through the website set up and that’s exactly what I had planned for this evening 🙂
Hopefully by now you have your site and are also on the mailing list, where I shared a detailed walkthrough of the Landing Page setup, complete with examples and screenshots. Go ahead and jump on there and grab that.
Even if you don’t have a site up already, I’ll show you the exact steps to create one.
Here is a highlight reel of our favourite landing pages, complete with a bunch of our own, see if you can spot them:
See you tonight – 7:30pm WST in Australia.
p.s. Want me to review your site or landing page for you? Want some free exposure to your business with everyone here? Get on the Periscope tonight live and you can put your site details in, I’ll do a quick review on the screen and you will also get tips from the other viewers. Win, win.
[Day 5 Update] – Automation 101. Simplify, simplify, simplify
The holy-grail of the online business, 4 Hour Workweek, passive income, world.
But what does it mean and how do you do it?
When your just starting up, “doing things that don’t scale” will help your business make breakthroughs and when applied to customer service can give your little startup amazing traction and start to create raving fans…but soon enough, doing 437 things at once can lead to burnout, especially if you are going it alone.
Thankfully, combining technology and a little planning, you can create systems within your business that become automated over time. Many you can automate from the get go with simple, but little known tools.
We’ve covered some of the automation systems we have implemented in our businesses already. Like
- integrating postage and delivery tracking tools into customers orders (self service = less customer service needs + happier customers) with a website called Aftership. They also have a handy WordPress plugin that ties directly to your e-commerce store
- Mailchimp, which allows you to automatically capture your customers email addresses, files them away for you and lets you again, automatically, send them emails as part of a campaign (think “promotion”) or a set of pre-written emails that can help educate your customers on your product or just give back to them, which is sometimes referred to as an Autoresponder
There are plenty more tools, which we will get to in Wednesday night’s Periscope, but it’s not just tools which will help you simplify your business.
When we get into #Growth next week and cover building your team, we also talk about Outsourcing and Virtual Assistants (or VAs). Why is this important now? Once you have simplified and/or automated the tasks and jobs and systems around your business, it’s easier to move those off onto someone else.
An employee? But I’m not ready!
You don’t need to go through the hiring process to get these tasks onto someone else, you can use an online service to provide you with all the skills you would need. We cover all of this and more next week, but as a teaser, here are 2 amazing services we use in our business and have for over 2 years now:
- TimeEtc – The virtual team. You can try them out on me for an hour. Bet you get more than an hour’s worth of value out of it!!
- Worldwide101 – Personal Assistant, without the overhead. UK and US based, we didn’t think this would work for us at first, but within 24hrs we had 2 Australian-based PA’s on the phone to discuss who would work best with us. Awesome.
Next update we get into some of the automated systems and tools we’re using to save ourselves hours and remove tasks that simply don’t need to be done anymore.
[Day 6 Update] – Automation scope
Sneak peak at tonight’s Periscope on Automation.
Simplifying your business processes doesn’t sound very glamorous, but the promises of doing it right can lead to the ultimate best outcome – more time
Less Customer Support Effort?
Making Money While You Sleep?
Here are the top 10 tools and tactics we have implemented to save us time on our business, in order of impact
- Mailchimp – automated responses for our customers is a boon and this is achieved in part by this tool and a couple others we mention below.
- Aftership – if you have an e-commerce store, automating your shipping and tracking is a must. This tool integrates with every postal service out there across the globe, with a super dashboard and easy links for your customers to track their own orders. No more irate “where is my package” phone calls at all hours. Phew.
- GMail Filters – you can use any mail filtering app, but this is the easiest one for us as we use Google Apps for business. What is that? It just means we get to use our own [email protected] email address, but it’s backed up by the power of Google Servers, so we never have to worry about any outages, problems with delivery and have far less issues with Spam
- Using Filters: One example of this is when my e-commerce stores get a new sale, I have a filter set up to collect these new orders and also trigger a different ring tone so I know when an order comes in (it may or may not sound like coins dropping on a table…sorry, I still really enjoy it to this day. Celebrate your wins people!)
- Smartphone – this is a 30 Day Challenge in itself and I could talk for days about how you can run your whole business from your phone, trust my, I pretty much do!
- Online Storage – you’ve seen those passive income ads; people in white cotton pants sitting on a beach, arms behind their heads, laptop sitting next to their cocktail? Possible? Yes. Normal? It can be, but wouldn’t you rather NOT do any work when you’re on the beach? Just sayin. Anyway, having access to your business documents, images for your social and campaigns is super simple when you have something like Box.com or Dropbox.com. I use both and have access to them on my phone for those emergency “send me that approval document asap” moments which invariably pop up…like when you’re on a beach?
- KingSumo Giveaways – want people to go batsh#t crazy for your stuff? Announce you are giving away a heap of it. I was so skeptical of this at first and to my businesses detriment. We began doing a simple sign-up card at our in-person shows and we found a little perspex box to put them in after my mentor told me I needed to capture more emails. We were struggling to coordinate people’s emails when we were trying to get them paid up so we put it back on them thinking we might get a handful. We had to empty the box every day! We use this tool to add people to the giveaway and run it at the same time to our existing email address. It automatically adds people to your Mailchimp list and draws the winner randomly and creates a winning email along with a whole bunch of other things – it’s terrific!
- BuzzSumo – content is king. It’s such a common phrase these days but it’s worth saying again. But what should you write about? This awesome tool is a search engine for great content on the internet. Put your keywords, topic, product in and see what sort of headlines and articles are resonating. Write about the same sort of stuff, repurpose these already converting headlines. Rinse and repeat. You’ll never run out of ideas again!
- TimeEtc – while this is actually a VA service and not technically a tool, due to the simplicity of the platform (email tasks)
- Hootsuite – keeping your social media profile(s in many cases – you need way more than one to stay competitive!!) Now that you have an endless supply of Content AND someone to help publish or write it for you, now you just need someone to Schedule and Post it for you. That someone is Hootsuite – a super easy to use tool that you can connect ALL your social accounts to and publish ALL your content automatically – it even tests your audience engagement to work out the best time to post to get the best attention, no guess work from you needed!
- Facebook retargeting – rather than looking at our trawling through our website statistics and our social media friends details to create promotions and specials for our customers, adding what Facebook calls a “pixel” to our website allows us to remind our friends about us when they are on Facebook next. Used without sleaziness, this is a super effective way to keep in touch with your fans. In week 4 we will go deep on marketing and how you can use paid tactics and organic strategies to drive traffic, leads, and ultimately sales, using many of the popular platforms.
[Mid Day UPDATE] Bonus Tool: Zapier – Oops! This tools is so seamless to my business now, I totally forgot I was using it. Did you know that you can have apps that you use in your business talk to each other and run each other automatically without you? Do you still create to do items from your lists on your calendar manually? Do you still copy and paste new items from your spreadsheets/accounting systems to your website or vice versa?
Basically – if you are still updating the same information in 2 systems manually, you NEED to get yourself onto something like Zapier. It’s super easy to use, even for a complete novice and is powerful enough that hardcore developers will enjoy it’s time-saving goodies.
We’ve played with many more, but that covers the bulk of the tried and tested time savers that just make everything easier.
Tonight we will see some of these tools in action and how you can implement these in your business whether physical or online to save you time and prepare your business for a step change in growth. Even if you want to downsize 🙂
We’ll also take a look behind the scenes of some of the physical systems in place at our warehouse and what we have done to simplify packaging and shipping in a physical products business.
[Day 7 Update] – RECAP
How Did We Go?
I mentioned in Saturday’s post that I had been experimenting with a new engagement on Twitter. @GaryVee tells us to “do things that don’t scale” and I’ve been doing just that.
Every new follower I receive on Twitter gets a video reply, personally, individually from me, wherever I am, whatever I am doing. Not a “Hi, thanks”, I actually take the time to look at their profile, what they’re up to, what they’re sharing, and find something of value to add back.
Sometimes, it’s not me providing all the value..
Here’s a sample
— Nathan Shearer (@lifeonautosite) October 12, 2015
Help! Our subscribers have plateaued..I’ve almost exhausted all my outreach places and it’s starting to look very [30 Day Challenge] in my social media feed, which might start to annoy some people 🙂
We ended last week with 36, we’re up to 41 but we’re still a long way off our goal of 200!
Periscope numbers are surprising to me, it’s a new platform and I’ve never used it before, up to 60 viewers in each session and it receives no promotion except mentioning it here in these updates. Thanks everyone, keep that engagement up. You ask questions – I answer them!
One that is working well is Twitter. I admit I have been much more active, hashtagging, @reply videos and just general chatting and adding value, but my followers has doubled, I’m up over 120. Nothing to write home about, but these new followers aren’t spam or bots, many are influencers, meaning I am onto something. More on this next week.
How can you help?
Know someone who could benefit from information that will help them start or grow their business?
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Thank you, thank you, thank you in advance!
It’s time to start thinking about growth.
Whether you’re shooting for the stars, going full out and hiring a team or just looking for someone to do a bunch of odd jobs for you, there’s plenty we cover during next week’s updates.
Here’s a preview of just 3 of the topics
- What is outsourcing, what are VA’s, and do you need traditional hires to build your team?
- How to choose an outsourcing company and which one’s are the best?
- Can I go it alone?
Want more? Leave a comment below and let me know what else you want to cover as part of growing your business or building your team and we’ll see if we can cover that too.