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I'm an Indiana girl who started a small Etsy shop side hustle in college and grew it into a nationally recognized personal brand. I love writing, educating, and raising chickens with my husband. I'm here to help other multi-passionate, ambitious women (like you!) own their everyday and reach their potential, too!

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Creative Entrepreneurs

Creative Entrepreneurs

OOF. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is worse than running out of all creative inspiration as a creative entrepreneur. I mean, really, I’d rather hang by my toenails.

Maybe you’ve experienced those creative blocks, too. Where you stare at your screen or your sit in your office with literally NOTHING to say or no ideas of what to create. 

Or, maybe you experience what I experience that can be just as bad…

Sometimes, I get stuck because I have SO many ideas and don’t know which one to actually act on. 

You ever experience that? UGH. THE WORST. 

Anyway, the whole point of this post is to give you my best tips to get those creative juices flowing and find some clarity when you’re feeling stuck. So, I’ve included the top 7 action steps that work for me below.

Tip #1: Read a book that has nothing to do with your industry

Let’s say you’re in marketing and you’re totally out of ideas when it comes to creating content for your online community. 

Reading a book can be a great way to get your creative juices flowing again… especially if you read for fun and don’t force yourself to be inspired. If you’re forcing yourself to find something, it’s not going to feel very natural or be very strong.

No creative work that is forced will be your best creative work. 

So, I’d say read a book for fun but for heaven’s sake, don’t read another book about marketing. 

Your brand may teach marketing but your brain is much more complex than that and it may be hitting a creative block because it’s practically begging you to feed it something other than the latest email marketing hack.

Give your brain some Huckleberry Finn or Home Decor inspiration or SOMETHING other than what it constantly has to think about — and what it’s currently striving to come up with material on. 

Look, when you’re having a hard time thinking creatively, trying to shove more of the same thing in your brain constantly just drains your brain.

Plus, if you’re reading a book on the very subject you’re trying to think of creative ideas around, the ideas you come up with probably won’t be very unique to you if you’re reading someone else’s teaching on it.

To clarify, I’m not saying you shouldn’t learn from others in your industry. I actually encourage this. But not when you’re thirsting for ideas and lacking creativity. When this happens, it’s time to mix it up. 

And watch, as you read about minimalism or parenting or something else, you’ll probably be re-inspired in your own field of expertise. You might read a parenting tip and think, “Oh my gosh! This totally applies to marketing when it comes to nurturing your audience! Why didn’t I think of this before?!”

And before you know it, you’re using parenting principles to help your team or students think about their marketing efforts differently or more strategically. 

You have to give your brain a break and let it be re-inspired in areas you normally don’t invest much energy. 

Tip #2: Do something mindless: paint, scrapbook, garden, etc

You know what’s crazy? I have had some of my best ideas when Matt and I are doing yard work, riding a bike, or painting our chicken coop. 

Seriously! I know it sounds crazy but there have been many times where we’re pulling weeds or raking leaves and out of the blue I’m like, “OMG BABE I JUST HAD THE BEST IDEA!” and have to run inside to write it down before I forget.

Ask him, it’s a common thing. 

Why is this?

Well, I think it’s similar to the book example. Giving your brain a break and actually doing something other than striving or trying so hard to come up with or figure out the best creative idea for your work is sometimes the very thing your brain needs to be re-inspired! 

Tip #3: Get in the company of your ideal avatar and listen to what they’re saying

This has been a really helpful practice for me and works well if people you know fit the avatar of your ideal customer. Many of my peers and friends fit the description of the type of person I create content for every day. 

So when I’m lacking creative brain power or struggling to come up with the right thing to create, I try to get together with some of these friends! 

Not that this is the only time I get together with them but it makes for a great excuse to call a girls night! 

Whether we all go to dinner or watch a movie or grab a cocktail, I find that I’m not only refreshed and re-energized after these meetings but I also walk away with so much inspiration! Listening to my friends and asking them questions about what they’re experiencing not only connects me with my friends but also gives me so much clarity on what my ideal avatar is needing! 

So I guess the point here is to spend time with people in your real life to be re-inspired. And it’s a bonus if some of those people are a solid representation of the audience you create for because having face time with them is so, so helpful!

Tip #4: Repurpose old content if you can’t come up with something new

This is such a simple step that I so often forget! Being a creative, I’m ALWAYS wanting to come up with fresh, new ideas and sometimes my brain is like, “Yeah, not today.”

Ugh.

But recently I’ve been combing through content I created last year, or even years earlier, and finding ways to repackage the concepts I was teaching on or sharing on in old posts into content that would be relevant for my audience now. 

That way it’s not a total repeat but I’m also not starting with nothing. It gives me a starting point to build on and add to without starting from scratch. 

Modifying something you already have can be a great way to get your creative juices flowing again.

Try doing this if you’re a few years into your creative career and running out of ideas when it comes to what to create or say!

Tip #5: Make something for fun

As creatives, we can lose creativity when being creative essentially becomes our job.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s the best job ever but SHEESH. Sometimes it can be easy to burn out on the things we love when those things become a job.

So, my best tip in this case is to make something just for fun. Something that you commit not to sell or share… just something for you.

Maybe it’s decorating cookies, or painting a picture for your home, or refinishing your bed’s headboard, or taking a pottery painting class. 

Make something for you and only you. Or as a gift for a family member or friend. But don’t make it for your work.

And just watch… you’ll probably be gushing with inspiration for your creative work! 

Tip 6: Talk It Out

I’ve gotten to a point in my creative career where I just admit to being stuck and talk with fellow creatives, mentors, and my husband about what I’m experiencing.

I ask for feedback, ideas, and advice. My mom (also a creative and entrepreneur) and I have been known to have 2+ hour phone calls trying to solve the world’s problems AKA working through possible ideas or solutions to my creative blocks.

She offers feedback on my very raw and undeveloped ideas, and also helps me develop or strengthen them.

I have other author and business friends who I also call or voice message when I’m just not getting anywhere.

Sometimes just talking through it and flushing it out with others who get it is enough to help me get out of my head and be inspired again. 

Tip 7: Unplug and Change your Environment

This seems so obvious but can be so hard. If I’m on a deadline for a book manuscript or project and racking my brain for ideas, stopping what I’m doing and moving to a different environment sometimes feels like the least productive thing I can do. 

I have stuff to get done and I need to be in my office!

But when I actually get off my butt and take a few minutes to go downstairs to make a cup of coffee, or take the dog for a walk, or even go grab lunch at my favorite local southern restaurant, I find that creativity sometimes comes back to me.

Regularly changing your environment, getting your eyes off your computer, and moving your booty can be such a simple but game-changing practice. 

Okay, your turn! How do you get reinspired when you hit a creative brick wall? 

Tell me in the comments below!

How to Get Re-Inspired When You’re In a Funk

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Creative Entrepreneurs

Wouldn’t it be awesome if you and I could hop on the phone for a coaching call? Ugh I wish. 

If there were more hours in the day, I’d love to hop on coaching calls with every single one of the women in this community and answer all your burning questions.

Sadly, there’s a limit on the number of hours, let alone open hours, in my life sooo I decided to try the next best thing and write what I would tell you if I were on a coaching call with you and you asked me one of the questions I get asked at least once a week:

“J, I’ve started a lifestyle blog or podcast and want to talk about all the things I love… how do I pick a niche without giving up all my passions?”

If you and I were on a coaching call and I was helping you find some focus so you can get growing, here’s what I’d tell you:

Let’s say you have a lot of experience and have had some success when it comes to finances. 

Perhaps you’ve found ways to pay off a massive debt in a shorter amount of time than was required (like your student loans), have a degree in finance, and are a wicked smart negotiator or bargain shopper. 

Budgeting and bargaining are practically your expertise, and your friends are always coming to you for money-saving hacks or budget friendly ideas. You know you’ve got the whole money thing down, and that if you focused your blog on that, you could really help a lot of people. 

However, you’re conflicted because you are more drawn to the idea of starting a lifestyle blog so you can talk about everything you love… shoes, travel, fitness, family, home decor, etc.

You may not be an expert at home decor or travel but you do enjoy them and want to talk about them.

Great! Then talk about them. Start the lifestyle blog BUT do not market it as a lifestyle blog where you have all these different categories as stand alone and separate categories. If you want to talk about a variety of subjects, that’s absolutely fine but you need to have a common denominator that ties them all together for a specific type of customer avatar. 

Your common denominator, in this case, could be money for millennial wives. 

Think about it. Why couldn’t you teach about shopping for designer shoes on a budget, traveling on a budget, how to eat healthy on a budget, money tips for married couples, and home decor hacks on on a budget? 

Speaking about these subjects you care about AS THEY RELATE to your niche subject establishes you as a trusted authority in an area you have had success and experience in, and gives your content some clear focus and speaks to a specific demographic without limiting your ability to write or speak on what you are passionate about. 

Always ask yourself, how can I teach on this subject as it relates to my expertise or core niche?

Here’s a visual of how this works:

When I first started my blog, my niche was Christian Advice for Millennial Women. I talked about a few subtopics consistently: dating, health, and creativity (bible journaling, etsy, etc). 

Setting it up this way is strategic because it keeps your content interesting while still speaking directly to a clear audience with a common interest. 

Another thing I want to say is that you are allowed to be a human and talk about subjects you’re passionate about and that are relevant to your ideal audience so long as you have a solid portion of your content that loops in the common denominator.

You don’t have to only talk about 1 thing 24/7 but you also shouldn’t try to be the “Everything Girl,” ESPECIALLY when you’re just starting out.

Share enough variety that you connect with people on a human to human level without totally confusing them, either.

And if you’re having a really hard time coming up with a topic or niche to focus on, I recommend considering two key components and combining them: 

  1. What do you have the most experience or knowledge with?
  2. What do you really care about?

If you have the most experience or knowledge with finances but you REALLY care about home and family, maybe your niche is “Money Tips for the Modern Family.”

Or perhaps you have the most experience with Pilates because you’ve been a Pilates instructor for years buuut you’ve kind of lost your passion for it. But you really care about parenting and motherhood and want to start a blog on that. 

Sis, don’t throw out your expertise just because you aren’t as passionate about it! This very thing can help you stand out from all the other parenting podcasts (or blogs) that exist. Start by weaving it into your passion so you have something unique to bring to the table, “Pilates and Parenting Tips for New Mamas.” 

See how this works? Including your expertise will help you stand out in your space if you creatively combine it with the thing you really care about.

Okay, now it’s your turn! Tell me: 

Are you a multi-passionate creative? What do you think your niche focus is going to be? Or what is it currently?

Which subjects do you care about that you can work on relating to and sharing on as they relate to your core subject matter?

How to Pick a Niche as a MultiPassionate Creative Writer

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Creative Entrepreneurs

Do you have a big dream that seems totally out of reach given your current schedule? Maybe you’ve been really wanting to start that Etsy shop or web design business but with your current job, family needs, home projects, and extra commitments… there’s not much time left to squeeze in another thing.

Plus, if you’re anything like me, you tend to overcommit yourself. Personally, this year’s big resolution is to allow more time for rest and taking care of myself by making room for margin.

Maybe you’re in a similar boat. 

Look, I get it. On the one hand, you want to be careful not to overcommit yourself because your hands are already pretty full. But on the other hand, you don’t want to keep putting off your dreams. 

#thestruggleisreal 

You just KNOW this is your year to finally go for it… it’s just finding time to actually start that’s a problem. 

I’ve been in your shoes. 

At the beginning of 2019, I KNEW I wanted to start my online school for creative female entrepreneurs buuuut I also had 4 arms to my business going (my shop, my podcast, 1:1 business coaching, and speaking). 

On top of that, I was getting ready to launch my book and go on a national book tour in the Spring.

It didn’t exactly seem like the ideal time to add on my next creative endeavor. 

My plate was already so full. However, I knew in my gut that I at least needed to move in that direction because I had been putting it off for over a year at that point even if I wasn’t going to be able to really develop the full vision right away.

So you know what I did? I looked at the whole year and made a plan. I decided to give my all to stewarding what was already on my plate, and slowly but surely shifting things around to make room in the first three quarters of the year so that I’d be ready to take the first step in quarter 4. 

When quarter 4 rolled around, I didn’t build out a full website or have a massive business built ready to rock and roll. Not even in the slightest. 

I simply made the announcement to my community and offered a short one time group coaching program to kick it off without a super long term commitment on my part. I had to give four weeks – and I learned a lot from those four weeks! 

Not only did those who took the program get some incredible results but I did as well! That small start helped me see what my community REALLY needs and how I could dedicate the following year to developing tools and resources to meeting those needs.

So, if you have a vision for the creative business you want to start but feel like you have no time… I’ve got 4 incredibly important tips for you.

1. You don’t have the time unless you make the time.

This is just a fact. You may not be able to make the time to go all in within the next three months of your life, and that’s okay. 

Think bigger picture. Look ahead to the next 12 months and pick the 90 day window where you can commit to taking the first steps to really getting it going (even if you still can’t go all in). 

The point I’m trying to make is that you, and only you, are responsible for investing in your dream. And the most important investment you can make into your dream is TIME. More specifically committed time (like my 4 week coaching program in Q4 example!). 

Look at the next year in 90 day increments (did you know our brains are biologically wired to operate in 90 day increments? We get bored if we try to do the same thing for too long). Consider what you’ll dedicate the bulk of your free time to in each 90 day window. If it’s not Quarter 1, could it be Quarter 2 and 3? What steps would you need to take to prepare for that? 

To really invest time and energy into this, ask yourself this very important question: What Can I Let Go and What Do I Want to Grow? 

Can you let go of Netflix for 90 days in Quarter 3 and dedicate that time to building your dream? What does your answer to this question look like and which 90 day period of the year will you commit to this discipline?

2. Incremental, Implementable, Imperfect Action 

I know all the motivational gurus are telling you to take BIG, MASSIVE ACTION. And sometimes, that’s what it takes. There are certainly times we just have to take a big step or make the leap. 

But more often than not, especially for the busy, everyday woman just trying to pay her bills without giving up on her dreams, taking massive action just isn’t realistic.

This is why my mantra is incremental, implementable, imperfect action. In other words, what is ONE thing you can do to move 1% closer to starting that creative business dream even if you’re not actually starting it yet?  

A friend of mine that I had on my podcast not too long ago shared a great example on this. She said, “As a mental health counselor with a dream to be a writer, I knew I wanted to do more writing on mental health buuuut my workload as a counselor was already overwhelming… I knew it wasn’t something I could really pursue full time in the near future. So, I focused on doing one tiny thing that would allow me to move a little closer to the dream without abandoning all stability: I’d write one caption on mental health content per week for the next few months.”

She shared that doing that allowed her to fulfill that passion a little bit, and begin establishing her as an authority on the subject online, without having to give TOO much time or go all in. 

Look, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing when you’re just starting out! What can you do that would move you 1% closer to what you want to do? 

3. Start with a Plan 

To piggyback off the last point, sometimes the best incremental action step you can take is to MAKE A PLAN.

Us creatives are FULL of big ideas and not always so savvy when it comes to planning… and without a plan, those big ideas can sometimes overwhelm us, right? 

So, I’d recommend that the one incremental step you take is to actually put pen to paper and create a business plan for yourself so that you have a roadmap to follow step by step! 

This doesn’t require you to launch or start the operations of the business overnight but it will help you get a clearer picture of what you’re going for, who you’re aiming to serve, and what you need to do first, second, third, etc.

Once you have a business plan, you can begin to formulate a bit more of an action plan.

4. Keep a Dream Notepad (even if you don’t make money in that business for another 6-12 months)

Last but not least, even if you’re not quite ready to go all in, I highly recommend you go to the store and buy yourself a note-pad or journal dedicated solely to your creative business dreams and ideas. 

When you have an idea for something you want to create or launch in the middle of the night or while you’re at work, WRITE IT DOWN in the dream notebook. 

Then, when it comes time to really dip your toe in the water and start the business as a side hustle, you can go through your ideas and start with the one that’s most practical for you to implement FIRST.  

This is a tool that has helped my non-stop brain keep my ideas organized without having to totally alter the whole business plan every time I have a new idea.

Once you’ve had a chance to watch the video, we’d love to hear from you:

  1. What’s your creative dream?
  2. What’s ONE thing you can let go to make a little room to take an incremental step in that direction?

Drop your answers in the comments below!

4 Tips to Starting a Creative Side Hustle When Your Hands Are Already Full

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Creative Entrepreneurs

I can say this honestly: Podcasting changed my life and business.

After successfully launching a podcast, it literally changed my trajectory with publishing, helped me sell more books, and build my network. 

That’s a story for another time but the point is that podcasting can be a great alternative to a blog (and often works in tandem with a blog) as a lead generating source, a way to highlight your niche expertise, build your audience and customer base, and make money.  

For now, I want to focus on the monetization piece of podcasting because this is a subject I’m regularly asked about.  


The following are all the different ways you can monetize a podcast:

For now, I want to focus on the monetization piece of podcasting because this is a subject I’m regularly asked about.  

  1. Affiliate Links, Ads, or Brand Sponsorships
  2. Services
  3. Physical Products
  4. Digital Products

Let’s unpack each one – how they work, the pros and cons, etc. – so you can select the best plan of action. 

1. Affiliate Links and Ads

This is the traditional blog / podcast monetization method, and probably what you’re most familiar with when you think of how bloggers or podcasters earn money.

Now, when it comes to podcasting, this can be a really lucrative route IF you have a big audience established. 

I use this monetization method on my podcast but rarely on my social media and blog. If you scroll through my instagram, you might see one sponsored post a year. 

I have companies reach out and offer me thousands of dollars to share about their businesses on a weekly basis, and I could make a nice chunk of change by saying yes to everyone who asks.

Instead, I have a rule: The one place I’ll advertise for other brands consistently is on my podcast, so long as I can advertise my own products and offerings as much as, if not more than, I share about other brands. 

Advertising like this is really only sustainable if you have a high volume of listeners, and although I did used to do it now and then on the podcast, I didn’t get more serious about this until we began averaging around 55,000 downloads per episode. 

The benefit of taking on sponsorships and ads when it comes to podcasting is that it’s a sliver of the whole piece of content. This is why I’m willing to do it there versus on Instagram. 

On Instagram, the ad is the entire piece of content, so I try to avoid doing this unless I really, really love the product or brand.

The benefit of this method: it allows you to monetize and sustain all the time you invest into creating, paying editors, etc. and is especially helpful in a season where you don’t have many of your own offerings available. 

The challenge with this method: It requires that you have a pretty big listener base established (the rate for ads is about $18-25 per 1,000 downloads per episode and the average podcast gets only 140 downloads per episode). In other words, you really need to have high volume for this to be a route that keeps your lights on.

Do the math.

Say company A is willing to pay you $20 per 1,000 downloads on an episode. 

If you average 5,000 downloads on an episode, you’d make $20 x 5 = $100 for running that ad.

$100 per episode might be nice spending money but it’s not going to replace your 9-5. 

If you average 10,000 downloads per episode, you’d make $20 x 10 = $200 for running that ad.

Not bad but still not as much as you could make with a much smaller audience using another monetization route. 

Unless you already have a really large and loyal following, this is not always the best way to go about things. Why? 

Because you have to be in the top 1-3% of podcasts for this to be sustainable (over 50,000 downloads per episode), and you’re relying on someone else’s business. 

You’re pouring energy and putting work into growing your audience for people to click away or go buy something from someone else. You’re spending all this time pouring into your content only to lead people to go somewhere else. 

That’s not to say you shouldn’t ever use this method. I mean, I use it! 

However, it’s important to understand that if you’re just starting off and don’t have a large audience yet, there are other ways to do this that can be much more profitable and sustainable for you.

2. Services

Okay, monetization method number 2 is to offer your own services. I ran a photography business for two years, so I’m pretty familiar with this kind of work.

Monetization method number 2 is to offer your own services. I ran a photography business for two years, and since I often say podcasting is essentially of like audio blogging, I’ll make the connection by saying that although I did not have a podcast at the time, I DID have a blog for this business, and I often shared about my photography sessions on my blog, which helped me get clients (which also supported my blog financially). 

The benefit of this method: Compared to the last method, you can charge WAY more, and make much more with a smaller audience.

Instead of having to rack up thousands of downloads to make maaaybe $20 per 1,000 downloads, you could offer a service that you charge $2,000-4,000 dollars for.

Let’s do the math.

If you averaged about 2,000 listeners per podcast episode and went the advertising route at the $20 per 1,000 listens price point, you’d make $40 for running an ad on that episode. Even if you ran 3 midroll ads at this rate, you’d still only make $120 for that episode. 

If you have 52 episodes a year, which equals one episode per week, and ran 3 midroll ads on each episode at that rate, you’d ultimately make $6,240 with ads in a year (before taxes and expenses). 

Great supplemental income but not exactly a salary.

Now, if you averaged 2,000 listeners per episode and pointed people to your web design services, you could safely estimate that about 2% would take you up on your offer. 

That’s 40 people. If 40 of your listeners, over the course of the entire year, purchased your $2000 web design package, that would be 40 x 2,000 = $80,000 in a year. 

That’s a difference of $73,760! 

THAT is sustainable, and a GREAT method to consider if you don’t have a big audience but you DO have a service to offer. 

You’d want to make sure you target your shows content toward those who would need the kind of service you offer. If it were web design, then creating a podcast for new business owners or mom-preneurs would be a great best plan of action.

See how this works? If you’re a service-based entrepreneur with a small but engaged following, either on IG or Facebook or your email list, and find that you’re wanting to podcast, this can be a great way to serve your community in a new way — and put some coin in your pocket!

Plus, if you have 2,000 active listeners on your podcast vs 2,000 followers on instagram, you’re much more likely to be able to sell more thorugh your podcast because those 2,000 people are actually LISTENING to your show. 

Only about 3% of your instagram following will actually see your instagram posts, which is about 60 people per post vs 2,000 listens per podcast episode.

See the difference?

The problem with this method: The challenge with going this route is that you do have a capacity, or a ceiling, if you will. You can only charge so much and you only have so much time in the day. In order to make more money, you have to take on more clients. But we know this isn’t always possible because you have 24 hours in a day.

Even with a team, this is a method that trades time for money and you can’t take on a million clients to reach your higher revenue goals. You have to draw the line somewhere.

So, if you’re just looking to create a sustainable income and escape your current 9-5 and do something you’re passionate about (like creating content in your pajamas at home), this is a great starting point! 

But if you’re at a point where you’re really wanting to really scale your revenue, I wouldn’t make this your only plan of action. 

3. Physical Products

My very first online business was an Etsy shop where I sold physical products like mugs, canvases, and t-shirts.

Here are a few pictures from that shop!

I started the shop as a college student so the few thousand dollars the shop began to make every month felt like winning the lottery! I mean, I made the switch from Ramen to Chipotle, which seemed like a pretty solid upgrade (especially with that extra guac) 😉

Okay, okay, I’m being dramatic. But my point is that the shop certainly did well, especially for a senior in college.

However, the more orders that came in equalled more work for me.

The more it grew, the more late nights my friends and I spent packaging items until 2 am (which was fun in college but I quickly realized wasn’t very sustainable), the more refund request or damaged item emails had to be answered, and the more money had to be invested in inventory.

The more items I sold, the more time and work was required of me. And I still had homework to get done and a life to live.

I loved that little shop but I knew that going forward after I graduated, I might need to find something a little more sustainable. 

Which leads me to the benefits and the problems with monetizing your podcast (or blog) with this method. 

The benefit of this method: The great thing about this method over something like using ads or affiliate links is that you’re building YOUR own business. 

You’re leading people to YOUR products and acquiring your own customers. When you convert someone from follower or fan into a paying customer, and serve them well, they’re much more likely to be a recurring customer. 

I have a friend that owns an incredibly profitable clothing shop (and she runs it way better than I ran my Etsy shop in college, although she started out scrappy just like any one of us) and a few weeks ago, Matt and I visited her and her husband’s house for dinner and she shared that a lot of their business revenue comes from repeat customers. 

As we devoured dessert, she said, “You guys wouldn’t believe how many of our customers shop every week or every other week. We recognize so many of their names now!” 

WOW. Every week? That’s customer loyalty right there.

She’s created a product people really love and they come back for more and tell their friends. 

They’ve really expanded their team at this point, have an efficient system in place and therefore, have been able to build a very sustainable physical product based business. 

With the right systems and people, it can be a really great thing if this is your dream!

The challenge with this method: The hard part about monetizing this way is that the cost goes up as the sales go up. It takes more labor, time, and financial investment to sell 100 shirts than it does to sell 1. 

Like I shared with my own Etsy shop, as orders and revenue grew, so did the investment of labor, time, money, and energy. 

Same with my friend’s shop – the first couple years for them were a lot like my Etsy experience… packing and shipping out of their garage and living room, hiring friends to lend a hand, and hustling until all hours of the night to keep up with orders. 

In this model, more money/sales = more time and labor.

I’d like to point out that there’s nothing *wrong* with this as a monetization model. 

You can have have a very successful physical product business, and I’m a HUGE fan of small shops and boutiques.

However, in this article, we’re talking about it in the context of monetizing a podcast.

If you’re looking at it purely logically, you need to remember that a podcast is an investment of time to plan, produce, and promote. So you need to be thinking in terms of time, not just dollars, as a currency.

If you’re considering monetizing a podcast by selling physical products, make sure you set an expectation.

Let’s say you sell sweaters at $50 a piece and you have 2,000 listeners on your podcast. If you can expect about 2% (40 listeners) of them to convert over the course of the year, you could expect to make about 40 x $50 = $2000 in revenue.

Remember, each one of those sweatshirts have costs to sell (labor, packaging, printing, etc.) so that’s GROSS revenue, not net profit. After factoring out the cost per item, it would be less.

It’s important to note that this is under the assumption that your podcast doesn’t grow. But even if it doubled in listenership over the course of the year, you’d probably find that your sweater sales aren’t keeping your lights on by themselves. 

Similar to services, this approach also has a capacity. More sales means more demand on your time and you only have so much time in a day (until you have to hire help but then that eats into your profits).

Bottom line, this method can certainly make great side income but would need to be used in tandem with a larger business plan to be sustainable – especially for shows with smaller audiences. 

4. Digital Products

These can be templates, presets, ecourses, ebooks, stock photos, and more. While selling  e-courses are definitely the most profitable because you can usually charge the most, I recommend starting with something simpler to begin with (such as an ebook or template).

The benefit of this method: I saw the power of digital products when I made and sold my first ebook in 2016. I charged $10 for it but sold over $10,000 worth of them within a month or two… with no overhead expenses per item.

At the time, my audience was much smaller than it is now but it still really, really worked.

But what I want to point out is that the amount of time, energy, and financial investment it cost me to sell 1 ebook was equivalent to the amount of time, energy, and financial investment it cost me to sell 100 ebooks. 

With the exception of a few customer service emails (and many emails thanking me for the ebook) to respond to, the amount of work I had to do didn’t go up much whether I sold 1, 100, or 1,000 copies.

This allowed me to have some freed up capital and working cash-flow to hire a part time assistant, take on more speaking gigs to get practice, and more.

That was not the case with physical product. The more orders I got for physical products, the more work there was to do and inventory there was to buy. 

The incredible thing about e-products is that you create them once and you’re done. There’s no storage costs, overhead costs, or inventory cost.

You invest time up front to create, pay an editor or proofreader to review, might purchase some design elements (also digital products someone is making money on ;), and pay a small monthly fee for a Shopify Lite account… and you can sell limitless amounts without those costs going up. 

You can honestly create an ebook for an upfront investment of about $50-$60 and a few hours of your time but can sell a limitless amount of them. 

Pretty awesome, huh? I truly believe digital products are the future, and selling your own can be the BEST way to monetize a blog or a podcast. 

Again, an ebook may not be what makes the MOST money on your podcast but this is a great place to start with digital products before graduating on to courses. Partly because it’s less production and takes less time for you but also because it helps you acquire customers, deliver them value on your niche expertise, and warm up your audience to buying digital resources from you.

If you think of digital products like dating, it makes sense to start with something a little smaller, right? 

Think of your free content (blogs, IG captions, episodes) as your first meeting, your lower priced digital product like your first date, and your higher priced digital product (like a course) as the proposal. 

This is why I say starting with a lower priced digital product is a more natural customer acquisition tool. If you met someone on the street and immediately asked them to marry you, they’d probably run away, right?

That’s a big commitment – especially with someone you barely know and certainly don’t have any reason to trust yet! 

But if you met someone and asked them on a coffee date, they’re much more likely to say yes, right? 

That’s a shorter commitment and a safer starting point that makes it easy for them to accept. 

The same goes for the digital product-customer relationship.

Here’s what this looks like:

Stepping into the digital information product space, and monetizing your podcast with your own digital products, allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your space, and acquire a limitless amount of customers without always trading your time for money. 

The problem with this method: I’ll be honest, it’s tough to find any real problems with this method. 

Perhaps the biggest challenge I see with this is getting it started. It takes a little time to build up the “know, like, and trust factor” by creating content on a specific subject for a specific demographic before they’ll be willing to buy information from you. 

But if you can stick with it and set this as your big picture goal, you can go really far (and scale your business much bigger) by selling digital products — even to a small audience.

Just for perspective, a friend of mine has an engaged audience of about 6,000 people and sold a $97 digital product that bundled up her expertise and that she spent a few weeks priming them for. 

In five days, she made over $15,000! 

In FIVE days.

I’m telling you, this stuff works if you do it right. 

The problem, though, is that so many creative, talented, knowledgeable women don’t even try! 

They self-sabotage when it comes to this because they think things like, “Who would want to learn from me?” or, “It’s not perfect… what will people think?” or, “I’m not a total expert, I can’t sell information on that subject yet…” 

All of which are lies. 

Why? Because even if you’re not the top expert on a subject, there will always be someone a few steps behind you. 

There will always be someone a few steps ahead of you. At the same time, there will always be someone a few steps behind you. Turn around and grab that person’s hand. Or in other words, create content on your podcast (or blogs) and digital products for THAT person.

Get to know them, understand what they want, package up your expertise into a system, process, or framework they can follow… and give it a shot. 

You might be surprised by the success you find.

Which monetization method interests you? Which one do you want to try?

4 Ways To Monetize Your Podcast

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Creative Entrepreneurs

Instagram has been a huge component in how I’ve built my brand over the years, and the number one tool that helped me launch a massive bestselling book (even more so than my email list of 200,000 subscribers!). 

There are a lot of reasons for this but I’ll save that for another post.

In this article, I want to dive into one of the topics you’ve been asking me in DMs, comments, and more.

It’s a regular occurrence for me to receive messages from my social media followers and friends regarding how I get perfect line breaks in my Instagram captions.

Look, this is important. Crucial, even. 

I think people still think Instagram is all about pretty pictures but I can say I have built my dream career and was able to get picked up by the biggest publisher in the world to write a BOOK because I focused just as much, if not more, on creating quality, high-converting captions as I have on photos on Instagram all these years.

Not because I had the best business model. 

Not because I sold sweatshirts.

But because I built a sold out community by creating killer content that converts random browsers into loyal followers.

More than that, it’s never a picture that has given me viral growth. It’s the CONTENT below the post.

Here’s an example of one of my viral posts. Not a fancy picture. It was taken with an iPhone on my front porch very spontaneously. But readers connected with the content, shared the content, and I gained thousands of followers as a result.

The picture isn’t everything

People have short attention spans. And while a great image is great for capturing their attention, I’ve found both the level of value presented in the caption AS WELL AS the appearance of the caption is equally as important.

Is it easy to read? Presented in digestible, bite-size pieces? Is each piece making them want to read on? Or is it a jumbled mess or one big massive paragraph with no space for the eyes to have a break?

It’s been proven time and time again that people are more likely to read an article in it’s entirety if the paragraphs are broken up into smaller bite size chunks with spacing in between each one.

Why should it be any different with instagram captions?

So, my theory is this: You’ve got to stop their scroll with your photo. You’ve got to suck them in and convert them into raving fans with your captions.

Need a hand creating those bingeworthy captions that suck people in and compel them to share? Download my free guide that breaks down the 8 types of content you NEED on your feed to explode your engagement and grow your fanbase right here.

Now, I’m going to share the EASIEST hack for creating beautiful captions that I’ve found with you because I spent years — YEARS, PEOPLE — trying to find the best way to do this.

Sure, I found dozens of articles full of all sorts of gimmicky ideas that kiiiind of worked… but only sometimes.

You’re probably familiar with some of these tips…

“Write the caption in the notes section in your phone and then copy it into the instagram caption”

Or

“Use this code that creates spaces and paste it in between the lines of text”

If you’re like me, you’re probably familiar with this advice and you’ve probably tried these “hacks,” too.

You’ve probably tried them only to post your caption expecting it to look awesome but then notice some of the lines got messed up because you forgot to put a period at the end of a sentence and now the whole thing looks like a jumbled mess… and it’s published… and people are seeing it. *facepalm*

I honestly don’t know why Instagram hasn’t figured out how to build this into their app yet. I mean, there’s a story filter that makes your face look like a dog but we can’t make clean line breaks in captions? 

That logically just doesn’t add up.

I finally found the solution

ANYWAY, I want to show you a SUPER easy, breezy way to get those line breaks without having to copy and paste weird codes into your captions, or just cross your fingers and hope it all looks good when you hit publish. 

I’ve found a fool-proof solution that works every single time.

Know how I found it? Scouring the internet for a solution and digging to what felt like the ends of the earth with a spoon.

But I finally found it. And now I use it every single time I post. I’ve even shared it with influencer friends experiencing the same frustration. This was just one of their reactions:

Okay, okay, so, here’s what I do:

  1. Type out my caption in the space provided in this link: IG Line Break Caption Generator
  1. Simply press “enter” where I want the breaks (novel concept, I know 😉
  2. Press Covert & Copy To clipboard button 
  3. Paste it into my Instagram caption

That’s it! It’s super easy with a flawless result every time. You don’t have to worry about punctuation or emojis messing up the spaces.

It creates consistent and perfect line breaks every single time you publish a post.

Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below! 

Can’t wait to see you rock your IG!  

My Best Kept Secret: The Easiest Way To Get Perfect Line Breaks in Instagram Captions

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Everyday

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Okay y’all. Is it just me, or does it ever feel like we live in a world where we all hashtag “#goals” on Instagram but then have a hard time actually setting and achieving realistic goals to improve our lives?

We talk about goals and have these ideas of what we want to do… but sometimes it can be frustrating when we realize we haven’t achieved those goals in the timeline we would like, right?

So why are goals so important and how can we make it easier to make the ACTUALLY happen?

I had to bring on the goal expert, Lara Casey, to answer that one for me! 

Lara is a mom of three, wife, believer in the impossible, two time author, and founder and CEO of Cultivate What Matters. Needless to say, she’s got her hands full yet she still manages to keep all her plants alive in her house.

Why is this significant?

As a busy woman myself, I have a hard time tending to plants. My plate is so full, I hardly have time to think about the wilted plant in the corner! And, as a result, I end up forgetting about it until someone points out that there’s a dead plant sitting on my foyer table or in the corner of my office.

Ugh.

I unintentionally kill every plant I’ve ever bought or been given… so much so that I’ve practically given up on the idea.

But plants – specifically, keeping them alive – are a significant part of Lara’s story because she, too, used to be a Plant Killer. Now, with a few tweaks to her perspective and lifestyle, she’s practically become the queen of keeping them alive.

And this practice is pivotal in how she goes about achieving goals in her business and life, which she explains in detail in this episode.

I thought this would be the perfect time for you to learn from her because as the year comes to an end we can get caught up in the hustle and bustle but really we should be winding down and appreciating everything the year has brought us. 

Every year we change and become who we are meant to be more and more.

In other words, with every positive change or sprout of growth in our life, typically comes a little struggle and mess.

Maybe this past year has been a bit of struggle. Maybe you feel buried by the mess and chaos in your life. Maybe you feel completely unqualified for any kind of success going forward.

I’ve been there. But I love how Lara says, “Flowers grow through dirt, and so do we.”

Lara told me about how we were created for 90 day windows. Our brains actually only focus on one project for 90 days, before we need to rest.

Interesting, right? 

It’s so common to plan for the entire year ahead, but the reality is, planning in quarters is much more realistic and makes what we’re hoping to do feel a little bit more in our reach.

We change more often than we seem to believe so this is huge!

When short term goals are set they seem more achievable therefore making us want to actually work harder on them! So check in every 90 days, and allow yourself to shed that skin to grow onto the next phase. 

The best part of talking with Lara?

We discussed how when it feels uncomfortable, that’s when we should just celebrate. Why? Because being uncomfortable means you are growing, and there’s no better time in life to feel blessed than then. 

Tune in now to listen to her goal setting tips and why they’re so crucial to a happy, faithful, loving life! 

Find Lara at @laracasey and visit cultivatewhatmatters.com.

PS. Take advantage of the Own Your Everyday Holiday Special HERE!


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Creative Ways to Cultivate What Matters

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Creative Entrepreneurs

I know, I know. It seems like everyyyyone is starting a podcast these days. Besides the TikTok phenomenon, it’s like the cool new thing to do.

And I get a lot of questions from this community regarding whether or not starting a podcast is a good idea for your creative businesses.

Before I started my podcast in the fall of 2018, I took a look around and saw that some people were launching podcasts in ways that just didn’t seem effective to me. 

This is typically how it’d go: They’d make a post on IG announcing their big, grand decision to start a podcast. Then, within a few days or a couple of weeks, they’d make another post and say, “PODCAST IS LIVE! GO SUBSCRIBE!”

Knowing what I know about building online communities, and how difficult it can be to get them to move platforms (especially based on one post and maybe a couple of IG stories of your own), I wondered if it was even all that effective. 

I’ve later come to find out that many people who have launched podcasts like that are frustrated now, over a year later, because while they may have a decent sized audience on IG, they’ve had a HECK of a time growing their podcast.

For example, I have friends with hundreds of thousands of instagram followers who only get a couple thousand downloads on their podcast episodes.

Something isn’t adding up there.

So, I decided to do it differently. I put together a ninja launch strategy to flood my subscriber base and start out as strong as possible while it was new. I asked my podcast manager to help me execute it and holy canoli, it was effective. We landed a #2 spot on the Top Charts in all categories (above Joe Rogan) and accumulated over a million downloads in just a couple months.

Now, over a year later, we average between 40,000 and 50,000 downloads per episode consistently, with some episodes reaching over 65,000 downloads — and have been able to turn our podcast into a very financially lucrative arm of the business on it’s own, as well as a killer marketing platform for other products of mine, such as my books. 

I’ll dive into that process and my launch strategy in another post but my point of telling you that story is that it’s NOT as simple as just slapping a podcast up there and expecting it to grow your creative business. 

The goal of any platform you use for your business – podcast, instagram, YouTube, or anything else – should be centered around online community development.

That said, it’s important to know that podcasting should be something to look at as a way to leverage your existing audience rather than as something that will grow your existing audience. That’s not to say you won’t be able to grow your community through a podcast at all but it is important to understand that a podcast is not part of a search engine, like YouTube. 

In other words, you don’t go viral with a podcast in the same way you can on social platforms, and it isn’t a search engine like YouTube, Google, or Pinterest are.  

Yes, people can stumble upon your podcast or find it through a friend but if that’s what you’re depending on to grow your business, you’re going to spend A LOT of time and energy creating the content for what will feel like a not-so-solid return on your investment.

You’ve got to have a strategy and know what you’re using it for (aka where are you driving your listener base when it comes to purchasing something from you, even if it’s small?), how it fits as a marketing tool in your business rather than a business model itself, and whether or not you’re ready to tackle this new medium. 

Before we dive into whether or not you should start a podcast for your business, I want to first cover why podcasting can be a great addition to your “brand arsenal.”

  1. It’s an incredible way to not only grow your audience but connect with them. Every podcast you record should leave them with a takeaway! Make sure there’s a call to action at the end, it could even be to send you a DM with a question 
  2. If you have a blog (I hope you do) this is a clear way to drive blog traffic. After the episode is recorded, take 20 minutes to pull out the main points and write a blog about it! 
  3. When you’re ready for it, you can begin to invite guests onto your podcast immediately tapping into their audience. Don’t forget to ask them to share! 

So when do you know your business is ready for a podcast and it will actually help you instead of frustrate you? There are three keys to understand.

1. YOU’VE BUILT AN ENGAGED AUDIENCE THAT INTERACTS WITH YOUR CONTENT DAILY, SENDS YOU DM’s, ASKS QUESTIONS, ETC.

Notice, this doesn’t say HUGE audience. It says engaged audience. A friend of mine has successfully built an engaged audience of about 6500 followers on Instagram who follow her for marketing advice specifically, and she could easily start a successful podcast. 

Her community knows what they come to her for, they’re sold out for what she shares, believes in her content and expertise, and would more than likely subscribe to a podcast to get even more of the education and help she’s putting out into the world. You can do the same. 

Pick a platform you’re comfortable with and that you can start for free, focus on a niche you can bring expert level insight to, build a bought in community around it, make that community feel like they’re all best friends with each other and you, and THEN direct them to communicate with you in a new medium, such as a podcast. 

2. YOU DON’T FEEL LIKE YOU’RE DROWNING ALREADY TRYING TO MAKE YOUR BUSINESS SUCCESSFUL.

It wouldn’t take away from what is currently putting food on the table, but instead, enhances and supports those products or services! This comes back to what I was saying earlier. 

The best time to start a podcast in your business is when you have a bit of a lull between busy seasons, and can spend a couple of months to plan, prepare, launch, and grow it well so that it ultimately serves as a strategic marketing tool and way to serve your audience for free. 

On the flip side, if you were planning to create a podcast to replace income from something else, I’d think again (unless you already have an engaged audience and know you can get a ton of them over to listen). 

The bottom line here is that when you’re beginning a podcast and in the growth phase, you want this to be a tool that leverages what you have to offer rather than banking on it to put enough money in the bank with advertiser deals. 

3. YOU’RE READY TO PROVIDE MORE VALUE TO YOUR AUDIENCE AND THEY’RE ASKING FOR SPECIFIC INFORMATION THAT YOU CAN IMMEDIATELY BEGIN BUILDING OUT ON.

And last but not least, you’ll know it’s time to launch your podcast when your people are ASKING for it. A lot of people launch podcasts simply because that seems like the thing to do even if NOBODY is ready and excited to listen because again, this is different from a platform like YouTube or social media where a piece of content can randomly pick up traction just for existing and being interesting. 

So, when considering a podcast, planning what to make it about, preparing to launch, consider what you’re asked for or about the most. And then serve that need with your audio content. Whether it’s mini trainings on Keto, political input, parenting advice, or something else. Pivot your content around the subject or couple of subjects you’re asked about most.

Bottom line, the basis of business – any business venture whether it’s creating media, a product, or a service – is to give your market what they want. Do you know your market? What do they want? Are they asking for a podcast or deeper level content?

If not, get to know your market a bit more first. 

If so, deliver on that and publish that podcast!

Does your Business Need a Podcast?

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Personal

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Dream together. These two words have defined Matt and I’s life for over a year now and I couldn’t be more thankful for the day our marriage mentors asked us, “Have you guys ever thought to dream together…?”

We both looked at each other and said, “No, we haven’t, but maybe we should!”

Then, a few weeks later, while on a flight to New York City, we decided to have a Dooley Dream Date. Matt and I literally pulled out a notebook and just started answering questions like, “What do we want for our family?” and, “What kind of work do we really want to do?”

We were at a point in our life where we were both so busy yet feeling pulled in opposite directions. And this exercise helped us see that we were ready to join together when it came to our careers, and helped us set clear goals for the years to come for ourselves.

If you’re interested in having a Dream Date of your own, tune in to this episode to hear several more of the questions that we answered on this epic date on a plane.

You might be debating joining your partners entrepreneurial journey, simply trying to be supportive and understand each other’s careers, or just wanting to learn some tangible ways to work better together as a team.

This exercise that Matt and I went through will be helpful for you regardless which situation you currently find yourself in.

Whether you’re working together on a business or not, you’re still working on life together, and we both know it’s crucial to fully understand each other’s dreams and together create your future vision.

HOW WE HANDLED FINANCIAL DECISION

I had to bring this up because it’s a question we’re asked all the time, and I totally understand why.

We knew that the stability we had from Matt’s 9-5 was going to disappear if we chose to go all in on the entrepreneur journey together, but we both also knew that him coming on board and helping in areas that truly needed him, getting his perspective, was going to be life changing. 

Step 1. We planned ahead, we cut costs that weren’t necessary and put away about six months worth of expenses so we could simplify and take some time to build something together

Step 2. We figured out the right health insurance for us, and we’d recommend it over and over again. Tune in to learn more about the route we’ve chosen.

EVERYTHING COMES FULL CIRCLE

Sometimes you don’t know what the picture’s going to be or how it’s going to eb and flow, or how it’s going to come full circle but now, not even a full year into this journey, we’re beginning to see it.

We are noticing how much progress has been made through that step of faith, of Matt joining me 100% and making this thing ours.

The best part? Because of this decision we made together, Matt is now starting his own coaching and consulting business and so much more – more of what his dream was over a year ago. 

One thing I constantly say is that when you love someone, their dreams become your dreams.

For years, when we were dating, engaged, and first married, we chased Matt’s NFL dream as a team.

Then, when God showed us that wasn’t our path, and my brand began to grow rapidly online, and we realized it may be time to chase a new dream as a team.

And it has taught us so much about why God created roles in marriage. A marriage is a team, and when whether or not you’re in business together, when you’re willing to serve your role – whether that’s in the lead or behind the scenes – you both win.

NOW WHAT?

Listen to Matt and I talk about every step we took along the way and how much we’ve learned. We bring up an exercise that helps couples decide whether it’s smart to work together, let you know exactly which health care company we use, and even give you a glimpse of our daily life (you know the parts where Matt teases me every ten minutes, yeah it’s a good laugh). So hop on now. 

My recommendation? Listen to this one with your significant other, watch their reactions, and hit the pause button when that light bulb turns on, this can be amazing to do together!

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How to Dream & Work Together

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Creative Entrepreneurs

When I was on book tour, one of the women I met during meet and greet told me that she has a HUGE heart for women (same 🙌🏻) and for Jesus (also same 🙌🏻), and that she was super multi-passionate (do we have the same brain?)… and she was struggling. ⁣⁣⁣

Why was she struggling, you ask? 

Because she had been blogging to help women in their life and faith, but it wasn’t growing… ⁣⁣⁣

Then, she said, “J, I have rent to pay. And I want to do this… but I need to figure out how to support it financially or I can’t keep putting this much time into it. I feel bad saying it but it’s the truth…” ⁣⁣⁣

⁣⁣⁣She’s not the only one to have asked me something like this. 

I’ve had so many women reach out and say something like, “J, I’ve been running a lifestyle blog for over a year and it’s just NOT growing…” 

When I ask them what their blog-business strategy is, they look at me like I have three eyeballs.

And I’m not surprised when they do. 

It can be hard for us big-hearted babes to remember that business strategy is paramount to ANYTHING we do (yes, including writing about our families or our health journeys or our faith) if we want to see it succeed. 

Anyway, then, I usually end up explaining what I mean (and what I had to learn the hard way after several years of navigating my own blogging waters). That said. before we get into the steps to launching your blog, I want to make sure you don’t jump over the foundational step of STRATEGIZING your blog.

STEP 01. DETERMINE YOUR BBS (BLOG BUSINESS STRATEGY)  

In other words, determine what your viable vehicle will be. Instead of trying to grow a blog so big that it supports you off affiliate links and brand deals (aka this requires building a relatively big audience and that can take years), begin by using a skill you have and offer it as a service.⁣ Although I didn’t realize I was doing it at the time, this is kind of how I started out at first. 

My blog supported/directly related to my Etsy shop. But then after awhile, I took on other freelance businesses (such as photography and social media marketing in the wedding industry) that were basically 100% unrelated to my blog — and I just burned out trying to do it all separately.

My blog was full of life and faith advice but my businesses were in the wedding industry and there was virtually no strategy connecting the two, and therefore, virtually no way to leverage either one with the other. 

And it was EXHAUSTING. 

⁣⁣Had someone explained to me what I’m explaining to you when I first started, I would have saved myself a lot of exhaustion and wasted time trying to figure it out via trial and error.

So, step 1 is to determine your viable vehicle, or in other words, the offering (product or service) your blog supports and essentially serves as a marketing tool for instead of making the blog the offering itself. 

So, business strategy 1 is what I like to call the Blog to Offer Strategy. This strategy is to have a clear offering (such as photography services or financial coaching or pre-designed templates) and use the blog to educate, inspire, and funnel traffic to that offer. 

Think of the destination wedding photographer. If she’s smart, she has a blog and shares her clients’ photoshoots. If she’s really smart, she has a blog that also touches on a few other categories such as personal life, education for other photographers or advice for soon-to-be brides, and travel tips. 

This creates benefits to the viewer in that her blog isn’t 100% “Sarah and Blake” and “Lauren and David” and so forth. It offers an interesting variety of content, value, and personal connection. But you’ll notice her blog isn’t FULL of affiliate links and brand partnerships because she’s selling her own expertise instead.  

Let’s compare this to the alternative strategy, which I call The Popularity Strategy. In other words, this is the strategy where sponsorships and affiliate marketing are the main funding of the blog (aka the business model). 

I call this the Popularity Strategy because it requires more eyeballs on your stuff. 

Here’s what I mean: You could work for two years, try with all your might to go viral, and eventually build up to, say, 5,000 subscribers. 

Great. Now you’ve got 5,000 subscribers after maybe 2 years of work. 

Now, let’s say a lifestyle brand is willing to sponsor you. The requirements are that you try the product, publish 2-3 photos on your social profiles (instagram, feed, etc.) and write a blog post with links and review of the product. 

With 5,000 sets of eyeballs on your site, they may be willing to pay you $250-500 for everything. You could push for more but that’s a safe bet.

Now think about strategy 1. How much faster could you make $250-500 if you created one offering of your own? 

You could make the same amount of money by selling two to five $100 strategy calls, or mini photoshoots, or template packages, or whatever it is you offer. You see how this works? You only need to make 2 to 5 sales to make the same amount of money (in a lot less time) as you would with 5,000 eyeballs on your site promoting a brand you may or may not care about (which could take years to build to). 

Don’t get me wrong, a brand deal here or there can be a great cash infusion from time to time. And there’s nothing wrong with them! But to make them your entire business model (especially when you’re just starting out but honestly, at whatever stage of the blogging game you’re in) is risky and very unpredictable. 

Take companies such as Cohley and Heartbeat for example. They provide brand deals for influencers at all stages, basically like talent agents, but the income just isn’t realistic to make a living off of. Oftentimes when you start out with these companies, they simply offer free product and $20 max for an Instagram post and story.

When you set yourself up with the Blog to Offer Strategy, the blog (or podcast or youtube channel) can still include other things you’re passionate about sharing now and then (faith, family, etc) AND revolve around that service/expertise to serve two purposes: 

1) It funnel / drive people to the offer that actually puts food on the table 

and 

2) It adds FREE value to your community WITHOUT annoying them with a million links or pop ups. 

Plus, you don’t have to feel the pressure to grow a huge audience this way. You can start with a small audience, stand out in a specific space, grow at a sustainable pace⁣, and make a living without depending on how popular your blog is. ⁣

Now, to clarify, you don’t have to have the offer READY once you start your blog. You just need to generally know what it’s going to be when starting your blog so you can write with a goal, or trajectory, in mind. When you know your end game or where you’re ultimately leading people, your blog will speak MUCH clearer to the ones your offer will ultimately be irresistible to. 

STEP 02. PICK A VERY SPECIFIC NICHE TO SERVE ⁣

When I started my first blog, it was suuuuper niche. As I mentioned, it complimented my hand lettering Etsy store where I lettered scripture prints, signage for weddings, and t-shirt designs for faith based companies. ⁣⁣

So, my blog content mainly pivoted around that (kind of like the photographer example I shared). ⁣⁣

Then, as the brand grew, I focused on the niche of Christian college women. My content has been able to become much broader since then but began very niche. 

Do the same. What are you an authority on? What 2-3 problems can you provide solutions to or answers can you provide questions to within that niche? 

They say the ‘riches are in the niches.’ 

Maybe your goal isn’t to get rich from your blog. Neither was mine. 

But I’d be willing to bet that you’d like to make some decent money from what you’re about to pour a ton of time and energy into, right?

Then, start with a niche. ⁣And make sure the majority of your content serves those in that niche. Content that serves inspires, educates, informs, entertains, or evokes action. 

And if you have any plans of using the blog to make sales on your offering with the Blog to Offer Model, then make sure you have a solid amount of educational content as well as content that showcases your work.

In other words, if it’s only inspiration and stories about your life, it’s going to be a hard time getting strangers to pay you for anything, let alone to pay attention to what you have to say.

Sorry, it’s just the truth. However, the more value you provide a certain niche when it comes to what they care about, and then strategically sprinkle in personal posts and passions of your own, the more they’ll begin to care about your personal life and passions you share. 

PS. Not sure what your niche could be? What you might POSSIBLY be an expert at? Check out the Kickstart course here.

STEP 03. ONCE YOU PICK YOUR BLOG BUSINESS STRATEGY AND NICHE, PICK YOUR PLATFORM

If you’re new to blogging and don’t have a massive design budget, I suggest starting on Squarespace. It’s clean, user friendly, and easy to get up and running. If you’re ready for something more robust, WordPress is your best bet, click here to get started.

If you do choose WordPress, it’s best to opt for WordPress.org instead of WordPress.com. It’s definitely more complex. I’ve included an article that explains the difference here.

However, I highly recommend Squarespace to keep it simple when you’re starting out — especially if you’re digging the Blog to Offer Model. 

STEP 04. SET UP SQUARESPACE

If it applies, follow the steps below to get Squarespace set up from start to finish! If you’re not planning to use Squarespace, skip to step 5!

STEP 05. POPULATE YOUR BLOG WITH 3-5 BINGE WORTHY POSTS BEFORE LAUNCHING IT ⁣

Give them something to binge — seriously! It’s that simple. Once you know your niche, pick 3 sub-categories of that niche and write a super informative and helpful post on that sub-category. 

For example, if your niche is fitness for moms, your subcategories might be Keto recipes, at home workouts, and training apparel. Write a post with information or ideas in each one of these sub-categories. Perhaps include a personal post with your story in this area as well.

Wait, wait wait, what the heck is a binge-worthy post?

To clarify, binge-worthy posts 1) captivate or connect 2) educate or inform and 3) activate. ⁣⁣

They add value to people’s lives in a specific area they care about and need advice or education in. In other words, don’t just have one post titled “Why I Started a Blog.” 

Like, good for you, sister, but that’s boring and doesn’t tell me how you can help me or why I should stick around. ⁣⁣

Packing it with tons of relevant, juicy content on a subject related to what you can help them with (such as wedding photos or getting out of debt) before ever announcing it into Social Media Land, or driving traffic on Pinterest, helps your ideal reader know what they’re signing up for (and why they should subscribe!), as well as gives people something to dig into, get lost finding value in (aka ‘binging’), fall in love with, and share with all their friends! ⁣

This is how your viewers will look
when they land on your page ^

STEP 06. SET UP AND CONNECT GOOGLE ANALYTICS 

STEP 07. USE EFFECTIVE IMAGERY AND CREATIVE VISUALS

Can you use stock images from the internet? Sure. Now and then it’s not a bad idea, especially if you’re tight on time. 

Should you make this your visuals plan? Abso-freakin-lutely-not.

Again, an occasional cover image from somewhere like Unsplash is totally fine. But don’t build your brand with stock images.

If you want to build connection and brand loyalty, people need to see YOU. Your face, your workspace, your BTS moments, etc. 

Pick a few tones you want to include in your brand look (such as neutrals or greens) and schedule a stinkin’ brand shoot. 

If you can’t afford that, have your husband or best friend snap some images of you on an iPhone (the cameras on those babies are WAY nicer than when I started!).  

Make sure you include elements of those chosen brand colors in many of them and start there. 

It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be YOU. 

STEP 08. START WRITING AND USE SPACING OFTEN (AVOID REALLY LONG PARAGRAPHS WITH NO BREAKS)  

The more white space, sub-headings (great in step-by-step articles like this one), and visuals breaking up the texts in your articles (especially the long ones), the better. 

Keep your articles straight-forward and to the point if you want people to actually finish them, and make sure to include GIFs, memes, and imagery where it’s relevant. ⁣⁣

This makes it easy to read AND connect with you as a writer. It makes you fun and keeps a human element to it — even if you’re writing about something more serious like law or finance.⁣⁣

There you have it! My Top 7 Steps to creating a strategy and setting up your blog for success without the stress! 

Now, tell me: Which Business model and blogging platform are you going to choose? Do you know your niche? Drop your thoughts or questions in the comments below!

7 Steps to Set Your Blog Up For Success

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SHE Podcast

CLICK YOUR FAVE PLATFORM TO LISTEN NOW:  APPLE   | SPOTIFY   | STITCHER 

Ever felt like you’ve been chasing your dreams forever? Like no matter how hard you work you make hardly any progress? Or like the journey has been more non-linear than clear?

In this episode, I had the privilege of sitting down and chatting with Jodi King of Love and the Outcome on how to find balance in a busy, on-the-go-lifestyle.

Additionally, we offer steps on how to be unashamed of your ambition but also faithful in the mundane, unglamorous moments of life. Tune in to learn why the long road isn’t necessarily the wrong road, what “healthy hustle” means, and why some investments that don’t appear to have a financial payoff are the ones worth making.

Follow Jodi here: instagram.com/loveandtheoutcome

How To Hustle In A Healthy Way

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I'm Jordan Lee Dooley. I'm just a simple Indiana girl, writing, speaking, and handing out free hugs left and right. In college, I started a blog called SoulScripts, just for fun, and to speak life and truth into any peers that might have stumbled upon it. I never imagined it'd end up reaching hundreds of thousands, turn into books, speaking, and more. But hey, it's true: when you just say yes to God right where you are, He does more than you could ever ask or imagine. Let's help you find your yes and start walk in your gifting, too. Sound good?