6 Tips on Avoiding Burnout and Boosting Productivity

What does burnout look like for you?

Recently in my business, I’ve noticed that work has felt more tiresome and tasks I could normally get through quickly are taking longer. I feel distracted, disheartened, and unmotivated. Projects that were new and exciting are now “been-there-done-that.” Maybe this is me leaving the honeymoon phase of my business, since it’s been just over a year. I also find other priorities clouding my focus: we just got through tax season, I’ve had to fix my car and things around the house, and deal with family matters. The hardest part is that, the more I get off track, the more I get down on myself for not reaching my usual overachieving productivity levels.

Friends, this is what burnout looks like, at least for me. Can you share what it looks like for you?

What steps can we take to recover?

The good news is, once you learn to recognize it in yourself, you can implement a few little things that make a huge difference. Taking care of burnout now will save you hours of wasted time over the next few months - and what a perfect time to get that sorted out - summer is around the corner and we want you spending lots of time with friends and family enjoying the beautiful beach days, not hiding away in your office trying to work and feeling stuck!

So without further ado, here are my 10 favorite tips on avoiding burnout and boosting productivity!

1. Focus your energy on three things

“A very wealthy and wise mentor taught me a long time ago to focus my energy and time on three things in my business. Tasks that are leading to a sale, tasks that are actually making a sale and tasks that are actually generating revenues.  

Everything else I needed to get off my plate and hire for or outsource. The time I stopped spending on non revenue generating tasks, and it was plenty, I divided up and gave a portion to generating more revenues, that more than covered my outsourcing costs, and I actually ended up making more money than when I was trying to do it all.” – Maury K.

2. Schedule twenty minutes of “sacred time”

“It took me several years to figure out (finally) that I needed to reserve SOME time for me every single day.  Even if it's only twenty to thirty minutes.  This "sacred time" has to be scheduled into your calendar or it isn't going to happen.  Believe me. Treat this block of time as if it was an appointment with an important client or community business person.  Once I started doing this faithfully I felt so much better!” – Sylvia H.

3. Build your ‘Dream Team’ support system

“Build your business around your lifestyle and not the other way around. Have a great (not just good) support system, and top level Dream Team or Board of Directors even if you happen to be a "Party of One" business owner.” – Ali R.

4. Revisit the ‘Why’ in your business

When things become difficult or take a downward turn, it’s very important to revisit why you started or took over a business. That passion can push you through the early stages of burnout.
— Michael W.

“When things in a small or medium-sized business get tough, the first thing I tell my clients to do is revisit their "Why". Why they are in business and why they do what they do is a critical cornerstone on which they built their company. When things become difficult or take a downward turn, it's very important to revisit why you started or took over a business. That passion can push you through the early stages of burnout.

Another thing I assess with them is what elements of the business are they involved in that they could let go of and delegate. Often I find that business owners, CEOs and Presidents immerse themselves in granular tasks that are not productive and don't support the growth of business. That kind of 'busy-work' can certainly cause burnout and cause a loss of focus on the bigger picture.” – Michael W.

5. Learn to lead

“Delegate and trust those you hire to have the skillset you paid for! Leadership is the key.” – Darnell L.

6. Manage your energy levels

“You always need to manage your energy levels. Make sure you have enough sleep, even if you have to adjust your work hours or schedule. If you collapse or crash, what happens to your business? You are doing right by your business when you do right by yourself.” – Joseph B.


Delegate your marketing tasks to an expert without breaking the bank

Stick to doing what you love and offload the work that doesn’t feel easy or enjoyable. Take my client questionnaire to find out what marketing services you can delegate that won’t break the bank or mean more time micro managing others.









Which of these 4 Instagram Grids is Right for Your Brand?

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If you are a business owner who has decided to handle your own social media marketing, you may be struggling with any one of the following:

  • Taking high quality photos

  • Maintaining consistent colors and patterns that fit your brand

  • Creating captions that provide value, resonate with your audience, and feel authentic to you

  • Learning the latest tools, platforms, and best practices of social media marketing

  • Staying up to date on algorithms and other changes that affect your engagement metrics

  • Dealing with everything else that often takes higher priority and stops you from getting any of the above done!

So before you get so overwhelmed you close this page and vow never to read my content again, I promise there are some great tips from a few local San Diego entrepreneurs, who all have a unique style and all are getting results! Check out their ideas and Instagram profiles to see which one fits best with your own. If nothing less, you’ll walk away with a few new ideas for content and some great accounts to follow!

The Low-Maintenance Vertical Grid - as demonstrated by @megladd

Best for: Brands that want to highlight a key piece of content and provide low-maintenance structure to their profile

Worst for: No one that I can think of. This works pretty well for anyone unless you forget to stick to your own structure, then it just looks messy and disorganized :P

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Meet Megan, a life and business coach with a big, beautiful smile and even bigger heart! Megan has used the vertical grid pattern since early 2018 and has stuck with it through and through.

I decided on the column layout because I’ve always loved quotes, and this seemed like an easy way to incorporate them into my feed! It’s also simple to follow and low-maintenance. I’m a fan of keeping things streamlined like that! Plus, I love when things look organized, and this aesthetic felt so clean. – @megladd

We like Megan’s uncomplicated approach to posting but we really love that all her messages are genuine and thought provoking.

I only post 2-3 times a week on average, but when I share, I'm intentional about it. I speak from the heart, and a lot of what I post is inspired by sessions with my clients — messages I'm inspired to put out into the world. – @megladd

Create a Profile Like Megan’s

Did you know that you can use content created by other Instagram profiles and easily share it on your own account? To save images you like, use the little Flag icon to the right of any image and click ‘Save to Collection.’ Just make sure to give credit to the author in your caption (and you may also want to tag them in the image).

I would recommend that anyone who’s deciding on a layout lean into what resonates the most with their personal style and the type of content they enjoy creating. There’s no wrong way to do it! Try whatever you’re naturally drawn to that also makes sense with your strengths and your business strategy. Then, show up consistently and long enough to start seeing results. Let go of it needing to be perfect. You could spend hours, days, or even months trying to decide on the perfect layout or feed aesthetic, but that’s all time you could be creating instead!
— @megladd

The Expert Diagonal Grid – as demonstrated by @checreates

Best for: Brands that want to demonstrate their knowledge and provide consistency for followers

Worst for: Lazy entrepreneurs who have no time to create valuable content and resort to motivational quotes or filler content “because everyone does it” - LOL sorry guys!

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Meet Ché, a copywriter and brand strategist (who also happens to have excellent taste in music!). Ché has recently started using the diagonal grid pattern, where every other post is an eye-catching headline or quote with valuable insights from her area of focus in marketing. When asked why she decided on using this pattern, Ché tells me,

“It’s easy to lose the interest of your audience if you stick to just one stroke. Mixing up your content while still providing structure gives customers something to look forward to, along with continuity. People like patterns and knowing what to expect.” – @checreates

I definitely agree that people like patterns! This goes back to evolution if you think about it. And from a strategic perspective, the continuity of the pattern helps bring viewers back to your profile more often, especially when they can expect valuable information to be shared that will help them in business.

Ché’s approach is also particularly interesting because she hasn’t just selected a background color. If you look closely, you’ll see there is a high quality image behind a brand color, and the diagonal slant of the color helps reinforce the nice pattern, so it is quite aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Even the italic font helps convey a sense of urgency that you really want to click on this post to learn more and feel a sense of momentum!

What takes the most time is figuring out what I actually want to say. This is where planning a content calendar in advance, with topics you want to cover relevant to your brand, services, and offerings, really helps!
— @checreates

The Spontaneous Colorful Grid – as demonstrated by @stefaniebalesfineart

Best for: Brands that aim to prioritize authenticity and avoid a corporate look, especially solo entrepreneurs

Worst for: Brands that have not yet created a style guide / have no clarity on brand colors, image standards and content themes

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Meet Stefanie, a contemporary fine artist located in Little Italy, whose work has been published extensively in magazines like San Diego Home and Garden, Modern Luxury Magazine, and SD Voyager.

Stefanie was refreshingly candid in her comments about Instagram aesthetics and grid patterns.

“Honestly, I think most grid and especially quote patterns are sort of tacky. 🙈” – @stefaniebalesfineart

I was interested to find out that Stefanie does not plan out most of her content in advance and what she ends up posting often changes day to day. Though many social media managers may argue this lack of strategy means she is missing out on engagement and leads, there is also something to be said for authenticity and posting genuine content.

Trying to use a pattern would take away from the organic nature of my content. I think everything should coordinate and be fluid, and the only thing I really focus on is the overall composition: Value, texture, and where your eye is able to both focus and rest.
— @stefaniebalesfineart

Spoken like a true artist, Stephanie! :D


The Planned to Perfection Grid – as demonstrated by @envimarketing

Best for: Brands that want to capture attention and instantly convey design expertise and dedication to social media

Worst for: Solo entrepreneurs who are wearing too many hats and don’t have the time to focus on design. Also not great if your target audience is not on Instagram much and you are only using it as a secondary platform for potential leads. (Devote your efforts to the social media platform where your audience spends the majority of their time!)

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OMG! I have been fan-girling hard on this profile. This is Envi Marketing, a social media marketing agency based in La Jolla, CA. Founder, Ashley Evans, started Envi back in 2017, but more recently revamped her Instagram profile to its current aesthetic in July of 2018.

Ashley broke it down for me by providing the key steps of her grid design process:

We create all of our Instagram content on Adobe Photoshop. The key to creating a grid layout is creating the layout and then slicing it into individual posts. We do this by starting with a 3240x3240 document and applying document guides. You can apply document guides by going to View > New Guide Layout on Photoshop. Create 3 columns and 3 rows, with no gutter space. Now that you have your metaphorical guidelines, you're ready to design! 

To divide the layout into individual posts, you'll select the Rectangular Marque Tool and set the Style to a fixed size of 1080x1080 (A standard Instagram post.) Then you'll select each post individually, cropping the document and saving the new piece of content when necessary. Be careful to not overwrite the rest of your content during this step.

– @envimarketing

The Envi Marketing profile can be described as less of a grid pattern and more of an overall aesthetic. Ashely has capitalized on using white space in each post which separates her brand’s profile from millions of others on the platform. She has also clearly communicated her brand color palette by using dazzling shades of green throughout the grid. Most importantly, she has expertly conveyed what her brand does: if you work with Envi, you know they are going to elevate your design and transform your social media presence. I told you I was fan-girling, don’t judge!

We recommend breaking your content creation up into three steps; strategy, copy and design. Take one day to focus on each of these, starting with strategy. Once you have an outline of your content goals and accompanying copy, you can create visuals more effectively.
— @envimarketing

Need help with your social media content calendar?

I’m hosting a Content + Strategy Workshop on May 1st in downtown San Diego with @createwithgusto to help business owners get all the content they need and the strategy to see real results!

Learn more about our event below and let me know if you have any questions

How to Make the Most of Instagram in 2019

Is your business using Instagram to attract leads? Are you unhappy with the engagement you’re seeing on your posts? If so, you’ll probably want to know the latest statistics on IG Engagement and what to focus on for the next quarter.

This report by Jumper Media outlines the latest data on engagement (likes and comments) and gives you an idea of what you should strive for based on your industry. The report reveals which industries are seeing the most success, but also, the ugly truth of plummeting engagement rates and what that will mean for small businesses.

Jumper Media collected data from 10,000 business accounts:

  • All accounts are from the United States and Canada.

  • From each account, they took an average of their last 20 posts.

  • They didn’t include accounts with less than 100 followers, because they didn’t think those should count. (Lots of outliers and abandoned accounts)

  • The data was collected at the end of January 2019.

They analyzed data from over 174,568 Instagram posts, and over 400 industries. Below are my key takeaways.

Key Takeaways from the 2019 IG Engagement Report by Jumper Media

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  • Average Instagram engagement rates have tanked over the last three years.

  • In March of 2016, average Instagram engagement was 4.3% (10x Facebook). It is now 1.2%

  • 1.2% is still better than Facebook and Twitter.

  • Why is organic reach and engagement so low? ADS - plain and simple. They want you spending $$$ in order to get any results from your content efforts

  • Athletes, Comedians, and Real Estate are some of the best performing industries for engagement

  • The number of followers was not correlated with average engagement

  • Story reach is between 4% and 12%

  • Posts still get better reach than stories (if this seems odd, remember, we’re comparing engagement not views - stories may get more views but not more actions taken)

  • Videos are more engaging than carousels and carousels are more engaging than images

  • Weekends are better for engagement

  • More tags equals more likes

How to Get More Engagement on Instagram

  • Start conversations by posting engaging content and asking questions in your captions.

  • Continue conversations by responding to comments, and replying to DMs.

  • Host a giveaway for your current followers where you enter them to win a prize if they like and comment on the photo.

Read the full report here.


But Meg, is it Really Worth It?

Before your heart starts beating too fast and you feel overwhelmed with your content strategy and to-do list items for the day, take a step back and see the bigger picture. This perspective might just save you from spending hours creating content that STILL doesn’t increase your engagement. Consider this:

We Don’t Own Our Social Media Accounts

Yes, we own the content we post, but we are really just renting space on the internet that could be sold, converted, or demolished at the click of a button by our friend Mark Zuckerberg.

Instagram Could Be Gone Tomorrow. (It Won’t Be…But It Could!)

If Mark was to delete Instagram tomorrow, what would happen to your business? You’d probably lose a ton of leads. Because although you spent time creating engaging content and capturing viewers, you weren’t giving them anything that compelled them to visit your website and more importantly, SUBSCRIBE TO YOUR EMAIL LIST.

Invest Your Time in Optimizing Your Website and Building Your Email List

An email list is something you DO have control over, it’s yours, you own it. Everyone who signs up for your email list has given you permission to contact them. So why aren’y you focusing on that? Who cares about views and likes, yes they are indications that more people might visit your site…but if your energy is on engagement, there is a good chance your energy is not on your email list.

So let’s talk more about taking conversations off Instagram and onto your website and email list.

Get in touch if you’re ready to put your energy in the right place 🙌🙌🙌

Five best practices for coaches launching a blog

Launching your coaching business AND starting a blog? These 5 tricks will save you hours of writing content that never gets read.

If you’re thinking about starting a blog or you already have one, but it isn’t getting the engagement you were hoping for, here are a few actionable items to work on for your next post.

Let’s start with some context:

A friend of mine is in the process of developing his coaching business and recently launched a blog on personal development and limiting beliefs. Though his content is refreshingly authentic and the ideas he proposes have lots of potential, he decided he could use some guidance on the marketing side of things. For instance, how to create an eye-catching title, and how to make a personal experience more relatable to a larger audience.

Here is the advice I gave him:

1) Avoid use of the first person “I” as much as possible

As a coach, you’ll inevitably need to talk about yourself in your blog posts. You want the reader to get to know you, trust you, and learn from you. And in 2019, a huge trend in content strategy is providing authentic, vulnerable stories that show your reader you are willing to go deep and be honest with them. However, even when describing your most personal, vulnerable, and authentic experiences, please avoid using “I” over and over again. It’s a little habit we all have, and it can be easy to overlook.

PRO TIP: After you write your first draft, go back through and see how many times you use “I.” Then take them out wherever possible.

2) Figure out how research affects your writing

If you’re the kind of person who struggles with perfectionism, don’t research too heavily before you write. It will stop you dead in your tracks and that blog will never get written. However, if you’re the kind of person who hates research because it reminds you of writing a college paper at midnight on Redbull, consider how much value you can add to your blog by taking a quick look at other content. You can quote an industry influencer, or cite statistics that will strengthen your position, and solidify you as an expert in your Coaching arena.

PRO TIP: Write your first draft as a brain dump or stream-of-consciousness to ensure you’re sharing your unique perspective. Then research other blog articles and see what you may want to include to show you’ve done your homework on the subject.

Everything that needs to be said has already been said. But since no one was listening, everything must be said again.
— Andre Gide

3) Ask yourself, should this even be a blog post?

We don’t always have time to create an amazing blog, with statistics, influencer quotes, and actionable steps that will help our readers. Let’s be honest, it’s a lot of work. So if you go through your morning journal and find something vulnerable that is worth sharing but not necessarily as a blog piece, decide how else the content can be used. Especially if you are discussing philosophical ideas or personal experiences, people may relate to it better if they hear it from you rather than read it in their heads.

PRO TIP: If your stream-of-consciousness first draft isn’t feeling like a full blog post, why not turn it into a short script and film an Instagram live, or create a Facebook post in your group? Authentic, vulnerable content is sometimes best used to connect with people on social media. Leave your blog for factual, evidence-based, professional content (something you would be comfortable sharing on LinkedIn).

4) Make your readers say Yes, Yes Yes!

One of the most important things to remember is that people are bombarded with advertisements and they don’t want to waste time. They demand to know instantly if what they are seeing is for them or not. So, the more you can do to make it obvious whether the content was created with them in mind, the better your content will perform. (Plus the more you can do to narrow down your niche and provide specific advice for specific people rather than masses of people who have way too many different needs…the better your content will perform). KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE!!

PRO TIP: Get your readers to say (or think) YES three times in a row by asking them a direct questions in the first few sentences of your writing. Try beginning your blog posts with two sentences that answer the following for the reader: Who am I? What am I doing? How will this help me succeed at what I am doing? (Check out the beginning of this post, that’s exactly what I did in the title, first line, and opening paragraph: Who are you - a coach. What are you doing - launching a blog. How will this help - you’ll save time and create better blogs).


5) Make your blog accessible for in-depth AND skim reading

Did you notice that this blog is formatted as 5 main bullet points, includes a quick PRO TIP as well as a longer, in-depth paragraph explaining my point? This is one example of how to make your blog accessible to two kinds of readers, the ones who want a really fast digestion of your value, and the ones who are in the mood to absorb every word you write. This is also helpful because you can be attracting new prospective followers at the same time as providing highly valuable content to your loyal supporters. The people who don’t know you are deciding if they care to. The people who do know you are remembering why they continue to pay attention. It’s a win win.

PRO TIP: Take a look at blogs you follow, or email newsletters you always read. How do they format their paragraphs to make it easy to skim but also go in-depth if you want more detail (Marie Forleo is a great example).


I Saved This Seat For Ya!

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If you found value in this blog post and want to chat more about marketing strategy, let’s get coffee (virtual Zoom chat or in person if you live in San Diego!!)

Feel free to reach out by email or send me a message on Instagram @mwecreative

Having trouble launching your brand?

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Running a business begins with setting goals. And to achieve those goals, we create a list of tasks that need to be completed. But do you ever feel like you can't complete a certain task because you're not sure if you will succeed? And that thought of not succeeding is enough to make you not want to try in the first place?

We all go through ups and downs, but at the crucial stage of launching your brand, you can't afford to procrastinate for days or weeks, and certainly not months or years. So here are six things that will free your mind from those negative thoughts and unleash your productivity. 

1. Remember, you're not alone

A recent client was struggling to plan her brand launch and reached out to me for guidance. She had a clear vision in mind and had already done a lot of brainstorming on content. However, she also recognized that she had reached a roadblock and needed help in order to move forward with her launch.

The simple act of talking about her struggles brought clarity and stress relief, even before she made the decision to work with me. So my first piece of advice, whether you choose to hire someone or not, is to remember that you're not alone. Find someone who will listen to and support you, because having an outlet for frustration is crucial to overcoming that frustration.

After signing on, she admitted she was having a hard time with the first task: to define her product offer. As she started sending some bullet points my way, she always wrote the same phrase at the end, "This definitely needs revision."

2. Expect Revisions, Not Perfection

Launching a brand is very personal, so when you have to start sharing ideas with someone else, it can feel daunting. My client had to share ideas with me, someone she had only known for a short time, and ignore those negative thoughts about being judged by others. But more than that, she had to ignore her SELF-judgment and realize that when you define your product offer, (or any aspect of your brand) it's not going to be perfect the first time around. You have to let go of the fear of writing down a wrong answer – which was no doubt engrained in our heads from school – and just let the ideas flow.

3. Trick Your Mind Into Letting Go

Acting with imperfection, in other words, to do something that may be incomplete, inaccurate, or not a representation of your best work, may seem like a bad idea, but the only truly bad idea is never acting at all. Trick your mind into letting go of the fear of failure, by repeating that phrase over and over to yourself. And never forget that there's a delete key on our laptops for a reason! Any time you start a task, whether it's hashing out your product offer, creating a buyer persona, or writing a blog, remember you can always hit the delete key, and any trace of imperfect content or ideas will be gone.

4. Take a Break and Come Back

I can't stress enough how important it is to give yourself time to take a break and return to a task. That's a great way to allow yourself to feel at ease when acting with imperfection – because you know it's only temporarily imperfect, and after a 20 minute walk or a coffee break, you can come back and really make it perfect! (That's how I manage blog writing!!)

5. Remember Nothing Stays the Same

Remind yourself that what is true now, may not be true in three days, three weeks, or three months. Your audience may be different, you may expand your services, and your prices may increase. Challenge yourself to put everything on paper that's in your mind, and breathe deeply with the knowledge that it's all going to change anyway, so the fact that you wrote it down, imperfectly, is the most perfect thing you can do!

6. CONSULT a Brand Strategist

If you're still struggling to organize your to-do list and make progress on daily tasks, consult a brand strategist who can provide structure, offer daily support, and make recommendations that will achieve results. If you're ready to take those steps ASAP, let's connect! If not, you can also take this questionnaire to find out what strategies are right for you.

 

 

Branded Social Media Content on a Budget

No budget for branding photography?

If hiring a branding photographer is not for you, there are other ways you can get beautiful photos that show off your digital presence and impress your followers. Here is a step by step look at how to recreate the look you see below. Or save yourself the effort and hire an expert.

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create branded content without spending a dime

1. Go to Unsplash.com or Pexels.com to find thousands of downloadable images.

Try typing in keywords like iPhone, laptop, or desk. The downside? These photos are all over the internet and it may feel less unique, but that's the upside - you can customize it as much as you want by adding screenshots of your online presence.

2. Use a free design tool to edit your images.

If you aren't comfortable in the Adobe Creative Suite, one of my favorite design tools is Canva.com. It's easy to use, simple to learn, and will save you hours of pulling your hair out with Photoshop or InDesign. Once you create your Canva account, you can upload the stock images and start editing them. 

3. Take a screenshot of your content.

Capture your website's home page, your logo, social media profile, or any other digital asset that you want to display. Then upload these to Canva. Now you're read to combine the images.

4. Play with it until you're happy.

It may take some cropping, tilting, and tweaking, but the straight edges of the iPhone, iPad or laptop screen make it reasonably stress-free to fit the images correctly.

5. Rinse and repeat.

Once you're done, go back and try some more. I've included a few examples of my own to give you more ideas.

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If you try out my steps and still find it too time consuming, I've got you covered. For a limited time, I'm offering social media packages that combine elegant stock footage with the brand content of your choice. Get all the benefits without the hassle. Click below to learn more.

5 Signs It's Time to Upgrade Your Brand

I recently connected with a prospective client who felt their brand could use an upgrade. Kudos to them, because this is not always an easy thing to recognize. When you're busy running daily operations, connecting with clients, and selling your product or service, it can be hard to make time for the little details. But, you're already here, so why not devote the next few minutes to a little brand analysis? These five signs will tell you it's time to upgrade your brand.

1. You're not posting regularly on social media

Does your brand have a social media presence? A Facebook page with a few sporadic posts, an Instagram profile with 50 followers, or maybe you used to write weekly blogs on a consistent basis, but other priorities came up and you haven't gotten back into it. Whatever the case, if your social engagement is practically non existent, you're likely missing out on opportunities to connect with your audience, announce important product information, and convert followers to customers.

2. Your brand links are inconsistent

Take a look at your website URL, your brand name, and your social media usernames. Do they all match up? This is one of the first things I check for when meeting with prospective clients. It's a basic branding step that, when overlooked, can confuse the hell out of viewers and make it more difficult for customers to connect. For example, you're a dentist and your company is called Perfect Smile, but your website is PerfectSmilesToday.com and your Facebook business page is SmileToday, and your Instagram is @Smiles_Today. A client may post a before and after photo praising the difference your dentistry has made in their lives, and they want to tag you in the post but give up because they don't find you right away. Maybe that example seems over the top, but it happens more often than you think. Just remember, people will have a hard time establishing a memorable connection with your business if there are little inconsistencies throughout your branding.

3. Your website hasn't been updated in months...or years

This one has a real simple test. Open your website on your mobile phone. Is it easy to navigate? Is the text the right size for the page? Do the photos load properly? If the site hasn't been updated in the last few years, chances are it isn't "mobile optimized." Why does that matter? No reason...oh yeah...except that, "50% of smartphone users won't recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile site." (Impact)

4. The idea of creating video content makes your head spin

Video is as important to branding as mobile optimization is to websites. With attention spans dwindling, you no longer have the time to capture the viewers' interest that you used to. People need to see your product in action, they want to meet the team behind the service, and they expect to find testimonials and visual case studies to inform their decision making. If your brand isn't visible, it's invisible.

5. You're reading this blog

Gut instinct is never something to ignore. And if you feel it's time to make some changes, you're probably right. For anyone struggling with this decision, I've got you covered. This branding questionnaire will help clarify your business goals and narrow down what's missing from your strategy. You can use it to figure out how well you know yourself, your audience, and your brand. The more answers you fill in, the closer you'll be to figuring out the next steps for your business.

First Time Hiring a Freelancer? This Post is for You!

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Curious about hiring a freelancer to help with your marketing? If this is your first time making that decision, it is very normal to feel uncertain. You're probably thinking "How do I know if this is worth it, how do I figure out my budget, and what should I know before signing a contract!?" These are all great questions, and I've shared my thoughts on those and a few other FAQs below. Don't feel like reading the whole thing? Click below to go straight to the freelance client questionnaire and find out what services you'd want from your ideal freelancer.

 

How do I know if hiring a freelancer is worth it?

Hiring a freelancer is worth it if you consider that time is money. If you are spending 2 hours on a project that could be completed in 30 minutes, then it is worth it to consider outsourcing that project to someone who specializes in it. Not only will they do it faster, but they will also do it better. So you can be working on something else AND see improved results for your business. 

How do I know if they are good at what they do?

Make sure to review the freelancer's portfolio. This will likely be in the form of a personal website or a portfolio platform like Behance. If they don't have some kind of digital display of their services, that is an indication that they have not completed many projects, are new to the game, or haven't taken the effort to properly display their work. When you visit a freelancer's website you can see whether they have experience in your project. For example, if you want someone to build you a website, there should be evidence that they have built a website before. Additionally, many freelancers include a testimonial page like this one so you can see what past clients have said about working with them.

How do I know if what they are charging is fair? 

As the client, you are in charge. You have every right to do your own research and see if other freelancers will do the same project for less. Maybe your freelancer will match a lower bid, but if not, they should be able to explain why they are charging you what they are. Often, it is an hourly rate and they estimate how many hours a project will require. Some freelancers, myself included, will reduce the total if after a project is completed, it required fewer hours than predicted. Some freelancers, alternatively, may offer a flat rate and you can ask them to break that down. They should be able to explain where the numbers are coming from regardless.

How do I figure out my budget?

This is tricky, and really depends on you and your business. You may not want to share these numbers with your freelancer, but the rule of thumb I go by says young businesses only 1-2 years old should reinvest between 12% and 20% of their total revenue back into their marketing budget. So a hairdresser making $4000 per month could choose to spend $480-$800 per month on marketing.

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What should I know before signing a contract?

Make sure the freelancer has outlined the payment schedule. Will they send an invoice at the end of the month, or is there a deposit required before getting started? Additionally, you'll want to have an idea of the project timeline. It is good to set deadlines such as one website page completed every week by Friday, or quantify the task e.g. 500 word blog post every other week. Make sure the freelancer has included a protocol for late payments or late deliverables. Finally, review the confidentiality and decide if the freelancer should sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA).

What other questions should I ask my freelance candidate? 

If I were hiring a freelancer, I would want to know what their communication style is like. Will we have a once weekly phone call, will I receive monthly reports, or will we text every other day. This will depend on the scope of the project, and your own preferences as much as the freelancer's. On that note, you'll want to know how they handle revisions. Revisions include any piece of work that you look at before it is completed. It is important you sign off before a video is posted or a newsletter gets sent, because you may have small changes to make. The freelancer may designate a certain number of revisions which will help you stay focused and not continually make small changes often. Additionally, you'll want to know your freelancer's availability. Do they want a short term project of a few months like helping you launch a new product, or will they take on long-term work such as managing your entire marketing strategy.

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Any other advice?

Don't worry too much, your freelancer may have more experience communicating with clients, than you do with freelancers. The early stage of working with a freelancer is kind of like a first date...except none of the nerves about looking good, saying the right things, or impressing anyone. I mean, the freelancer may feel that, but you -- the client -- don't have to! The best thing you can do, much like that first date, is be yourself, be honest, and see if there is chemistry.

Still not sure if hiring a freelancer is the right thing for you? Fill out my Client Questionnaire and see how many questions you can answer about your own marketing needs.