What makes a great opt-in? Hint: it’s not “Subscribe Now”

what makes a great opt-in

 

I’ve *just* come back from the Artful Business Conference – hooley dooley!!! SO. FREAKING. GOOD. I could tell you a zillion things about it: how aaah-maaaaaz-ing was Ricci-Jane Adams, how beautiful it was to see my friend Karyn Sealby up on stage because I know where she’s come from business-wise, how hilarious and smart was Kate Toon, how utterly thought-provoking was Peter Tullin and his ideas on the future of business, collaborations, and what audiences want (they want experiences, not just products), how totally on the money were all the workshops (practical video tips from Dawn, how to pitch and be the perfect podcast guest from Katie, how to disrupt the status quo bigtime in your hometown…. hahaha, thanks Peter – watch out Wagga!)

But I’ll save all of that for another blogpost shortly.

One thing that was touched on over the weekend was creating the perfect opt-in that will attract the exact people you need on your list.

And you need a list. 

Because your audience can forget to visit your website, they can forget to visit your FB page (which has virtually no reach these days anyway, thanks FB [not]), and they’ll probably lose your business card – but you can keep turning up in their inbox regularly and reminding them of how you can help.

It’s NOT a numbers game.

It’s about nurturing those relationships once they’ve joined you (because of your deliciously juicy opt-in). Having a highly-engaged small list is way better than having a list of thousands that delete your emails as soon as they turn up in your inbox. What’s the point of that? F’rinstance – I recently bought some bedlinen from a major retailer online; they automatically put me on their email list. They subsequently sent me THREE emails in the space of a week, all trying to sell me more stuff. Guess what I did on the third one?

Yup. Unsubscribe. That was pretty silly, no!? They could have sent me a discount voucher, they could have sent me home decorating tips, they could have sent me all manner of useful information and kept me engaged; but no. They sent me more pushy salesly stuff. Yuk.

But I digress. This is about creating a value-packed opt-in to get THE RIGHT people onto your mailing list in the first place.

 

Here’s my best tips:

1. Understand who your audience is.
If you don’t know WHO you’re talking to, then you’ll have no idea HOW to talk to them, or WHAT you need to be talking about. Figure out who they are first, what they want/need, and how you can help them.

2. Solve ONE problem.
Broad + general + covering all bases = VAGUE. Nobody finds that useful.
Solve their one burning problem.

For my opt-in, if you don’t know where to start with your branding and it’s all too overwhelming, I set out the basic foundations of what you need to do, so you can go through them step by step (if you’d like a copy of the Build Your Brand ebook, you can grab it here).

3. Keep it simple.
I know you want to help them with everything (because that’s one of my biggest issues too! I want to give you guys EVERYTHING that’s in my head because I know how much it will help you).

But in fact, too much information creates overwhelm, and overwhelm means that people simply abandon all that carefully crafted knowledge. No one actually wins there.

Be succinct. Create something that’s simple to apply or do.

4. Make sure it’s on target with everything else you have to offer.
While of course you’ve got lots of knowledge in different areas, don’t offer them apples when your business is all about oranges.

Think about how they got to your page in the first place. You, for instance, likely came to my site because you were interested in figuring out how to brand your small business, and read a couple of my blog posts. The flow is then that my opt-in offers you more information about branding for small business. If I offered an opt-in on how to set up an auto-responder series in Mailchimp, while it’s still small-business related, it would be quite disconnected from the main focus of my website, and I doubt many people would opt in.

5. Make sure it’s clear how your opt-in will benefit those who sign up.
Vague labels like “Sign up for my newsletter” aren’t going to cut it. The conversation in your audience’s head goes something like “What-the-hey for? What will I learn? What useful stuff will you give me that I can’t get elsewhere? Are you going to teach me stuff I need to know, or are you just going to be pushy and sell me stuff all the time? My inbox is already too crowded – why should I stick around?”.

Tell them exactly the sorts of things that will help them get where they want to go. For instance, “Get small business tips and tricks”, or “Get free photos weekly” or a one-off specific thing like “Learn 20 ways to build better relationships”.

6. Keep your headline simple.
Be specific and succinct about what you’re offering – if you have to take a paragraph to explain what your opt-in is, then it’s (a) obviously too complex and doesn’t solve the ONE problem (see points 2 & 3 above); and (b) ain’t nobody got time to read that. These things need to behave like billboards – grab your audience’s attention before they drive past.

If the headline grabs them, then you give them a brief summary of what’s covered under that (dot points are good; or a single, descriptive sentence).

7. Make your opt-in button stand out on the page.
Don’t buy into that rubbish about “red buttons convert better” – they don’t. What DOES convert the best is the button that contrasts with the rest of the page – so if your brand colours are predominantly red and orange, then make your button blue or green (and of course, make sure the colour still fits with your overall branding!). As Seth Godin says, “Show me where to click”.

8. After you’ve got them, keep them.
After you’ve gone to all this trouble, make sure you nurture them. Give them useful stuff. Entertain them. Intrigue them. Respond to them when they write to you (and they will).

Make them feel like they’re part of something.
Make them feel like they’re part of your tribe.
Love them hard. Give them stuff.
Make them feel like they’re part of something. (repeat)

 

That’s it.

Follow those 8 points and you’ll be able to build your tribe much more easily. However, keep in mind that even if you do those things to the best of your ability, they’re not bulletproof. They’re simply pointers, and you’ll still be spending time refining and tweaking your beautiful opt-in.

But that’s OK! The long game is the only game in small business. Build relationships, and your audience will sing your praises. And that’s good for business.

 

Lastly: 
I wanted to make sure you know about my FREE Canva challenge which starts Monday, 7th August, 2017.

5 days, 5 challenges – and you will SERIOUSLY up your Canva Game! Join here – http://bit.ly/ConquerCanva5 – and when you join, there’s also a chance to win spot in my Campaign WIth Canva Masterclass (worth $85).  The Masterclass is 15 days to create a totally on-brand, on-target, beautiful social media campaign for your business. Join the 5-day challenge and get all the details!

 

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Thanks 🙂
Hope I’ve made you think about your opt-in and now your imagination’s working overtime!
Have you got any questions about opt-ins? Pop a comment below, and I’ll point you in the right direction.

Julie xx

Small biz how-to : make a great “About” page

 

your-about-page

 

The Number One rule about your About page is – it’s not about you. It’s about your AUDIENCE. They want to know why you’re right for them – so make it easy for them to decide! And of course, there’s a heap of different ways to create a standout About page – videos, graphics, animations… but whatever the format, here’s my checklist of things to remember.

Don’t ever underestimate your ‘About’ page’s importance – next to your home page, your About page is the 2nd most looked-at page on your site. Don’t believe me? Think about what YOU do when you’re checking out a new site. Ha! We ALL do it.

Let me say it again: it’s about your audience, not you. Especially when you’re a small business, and ESPECIALLY when you’re a solopreneur. And your audience want to make a personal connection – so don’t write in the third person; it’s stiff and formal. Always be a human, and always write in the first person – it’s about you and me. See?

Your audience wants to see you. Speaking of being human – we connect to faces, so show yours! Make sure your image is well-lit and crisp. You don’t have to use a professional photographer (although a good one can be ace!) – just no blurry late-night snaps taken at that friend’s BBQ 5 years ago PLEASE.

So who’s it for? Think very clearly about this – who exactly is your audience? What’s their exact problem? ALWAYS keep this in the back of your mind when you’re writing.

What value do you give your readers? There’s a point to the about page – it’s about what you can do for your audience.

People are looking for specific information. What sorts of questions do people ask when they get to your about page? They want to know if you’re a big company or small; and is it just you, or are there other people involved? How long have you been in business? Where are you based? What are your core values? Why should they buy from you and not from your competitor?

Social proof is awesome. Because your potential customers not only want to get to know you, they need some kind of guarantee that you can actually solve their problem for them. Include some testimonials from happy customers! They’re most effective when the happy customer talks about how they were struggling, what they were looking for, how you helped them, and what the result is.
There’s lots of other ways to include social proof too. Press mentions (Remember that article in the local paper with the great photo? Include that magazine article too!) and mentioning that you’ve guest posted on that high profile blog are always good.

Visuals are important, but they’re not the only thing. Visuals are your first-line defence seduction. They’re there to grab your audience’s attention; they’re there to set the mood; they’re there to support what you have to say. Make them count, but remember that the words add substance.

How to write? The tone of your Brand Personality will be your guide when you write your About page, so you can be as down to earth or as quirky as your brand suggests. Branding is all about conveying a consistent message in everything you do – so how you write when your brand is whimsical or ethereal will be quite different to how you write if your brand is boisterous and fun.

Think about the About pages you’ve read. The ones that really grab you are not the factual ones, the ones that simply list qualifications, or the ultra brief ones that say “I’ve got three kids and in my spare time I like cooking and listening to music.” It’s the ones that tell a story about that person – what they think about and how they got to where they are now.

For instance, my About page includes “I live on a farm in the middle of NSW, and I love this space. But I’m not just a farmer – because the world is a place full of endless ideas and things to investigate.  If I disappear for a moment, it might be because I’m researching the latest tech-gadgety-thingy that I’ve seen on the interwebs; or it might be that I’m admiring the tiniest flower bud at my feet; or I might just be curled up in a chair with my nose in a book.”

Tell a relevant story – snippets from your life can ground a sense of who you are and what you’re like to work with. It could be a story about your humble beginnings, and about your dream. Bring your readers into the story of your vision for the future. And yes you CAN include the odd random fact about you – shows you’re a real person and just as weird as the rest of us (psst: Don’t include your whole life story – it’s too long, and the vast majority of it’s probably not relevant to what you’re doing in your business. Save it for your autobiography when you’re a squillionaire.

Include your call to action on the page – if people like what they read, they’ll want to maintain the connection. Don’t get them all interested and them leave them hanging for more… because chances are once they click away, they’ll get distracted by the next shiny interweb thingy and forget all about you. Once they’ve given you their email addy, you can maintain the connection and build on the sense of expertise, familiarity and trust by sharing beautiful, relevant and useful information.

Break your text up. We’re a culture of skimmers. ONLY if something grabs our attention will we be bothered to stop and read the whole damn thing. Break your text up with headings, highlighted text etc. And add images – photos of you!

Don’t include everything and the kitchen sink. Include your social connections here if you like, but ensure they’re secondary to your call to action. And don’t include EVERYTHING unless you intend to regularly check on everything…

Check and update regularly. Don’t use that 5 year old photo of you. Don’t include your Blab connection or your Periscope or any of your other out-of-date-social-media-that’s-disappeared-into-a-black-hole.  And of course, make damn sure that what you say in your About page is still aligned with who and what you are, and what you have to offer.

 

Have I convinced you how important this page is? Good! Now, go back and plan out your About page, and get writing.

 

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Beautiful product photography for your online shop: styling & props

product photography dos and donts

Product Photography

When you buy things online, exactly what is it that compels you to press that “BUY” button? Especially when you can’t pick stuff up, turn it over in your hands, feel its weight, feel its texture? There are of course a number of reasons, but online, a big part of that ‘thing’ is the product’s IMAGES.

When you’re a maker, it should go without saying that your product image should be well lit with no harsh shadows; horizons and other alignment is straight, and there is ample space around the product so that the picture doesn’t look too cramped. There are tons of tutes out there on how to get all the technical stuff right; I’ve written about it over here, and I also particularly like this one from Jess over on Handmadeology, or this excellent one on the Etsy blog.

 

photography tips

easy peasy infinity ground

 

SO THIS IS IMPORTANT:
A good camera won’t instantly make you a brilliant photographer.

 

You’ve got to have a good understanding of what you’re doing and have a clear idea of the result you’re after in order to get consistent results from your camera. Conversely, even if you’re only working with your smartphone, you’re still capable of achieving some very good results.

 

THIS IS ALSO IMPORTANT:
Please don’t ever think that taking one snap and uploading it direct is a thing.

 

Before you get even close to uploading your pics to your shop, you need to figure out a few things about your image style.

Start by thinking about your business personality.

Consider what the lighting is like in those images. Is it strong and clear, soft and romantic, or somewhere in the middle? What’s the composition like – are they full and busy, or serene and uncluttered?

Most of the time, a lot of props and/or a complicated background are a bad idea. They confuse the image, and the viewer doesn’t know where to look. Also, if your style is modern and minimal, you’ll probably want to keep things simple on a plain background.

Always always always keep your business personality in mind as you go through the different aspects of product photography below.

Composition. The first thing to remember about your photograph is that it’s in a frame, and therefore it’s a composition (remember that word from high school art classes?). So, you need to think about how to purposefully compose your photo. As noted above, don’t make your item too large in the shot (it looks cramped and uncomfortable) or too small (it looks lost), and keep props to a minimum.

When you’re cropping, keep in mind your pictures don’t have to be the standard height to width ratio! You can crop them to square, or shorter or thinner – whatever suits your object. Cropping also allows you to easily get rid of extraneous detail at the edges (like the edge of the verandah, that lens cap you left on the bench…), as well as allowing you to rotate the image to straighten up slightly crooked horizons. (YES. Please make sure your horizons are straight!)

 

Props. The most important rule is always Less is More.

photography - whats for sale

Seriously, what’s for sale here?
(Hint: it’s the shirt. But you looked at everything else first, didn’t you?)

So what’s wrong? Let’s see…. Think about what draws your attention first – it’s the white teacup, because it contrasts with the busy florals. The pink bangle stands out for the same reason. And not only is the shirt is only partially shown,  but the background floral is just as busy as the pattern on the shirt, and therefore it just gets lost.

 

Now you’ve got that, we can move on 😉

Props can play a wonderfully supporting role in your image. You might need to hang your earrings from something, or you might want to spice up your simple block of handmade soap with some fresh herbs or a flower, or put your kids toys next to a floor rug.

Whatever you do and however you set up your shot, look through the camera lens critically and ask yourself, “Does this look too busy? Is it obvious what the thing for sale is?” If it’s too busy, keep on taking things out until you’ve got the absolute minimum props (…just like your mum told you about wearing jewellery when you were young, “Take one more thing off”).

The trick is to make everything in your photo look like you’ve thought about it.

When choosing props, always go back to how you described your brand personality to decide what mood you’d like to convey. If it’s bold and sassy, you might try adding a touch of black or red; if it’s super soft and feminine, you might try adding in some tiny flowers, and use pastel backgrounds.

 

Editing. In my experience, most images require editing of some description. I ALWAYS adjust contrast and brightness; the aim is to have bright, clear images where it’s easy to see colour and detail.

If low light is a problem for you, digital editing is great for adjusting brightness and contrast, and correcting colour. (However, nothing can fix a blurry photo, so use a tripod or stand for your camera if shake is a problem for you.)

You can also change the colour balance to get rid of colour casts (like when your pic looks too blue or orange), and use the rubber stamp tool to get rid of minor blemishes (such as that bit of fluff you didn’t notice when you were shooting!). I use Photoshop, but if you don’t have it, there are lots of free web-based photo-editing programs out there, such as PicMonkey or GIMP.

 

Adjusting lighting to suit your style. While I don’t encourage you to alter the colours of your images so that it misrepresents what you have for sale, you can still tweak things to suit your brand style.

For instance, if your style is warm and beachy, you might make your pictures a touch brighter than normal, and tweak the colour slightly to bring up the yellow and orange hues. If your style is mystical, you might want to make your photos slightly darker with higher contrast. Or, if your style is shabby chic and romantic, you might like to soften the contrast, and brighten the image.

Once you’ve figured out your image style, stick with it. As I said earlier, most importantly your images should be in focus, well lit, and not cramped. Tweaking your images should be just that – tweaking – and certainly nothing that’s going to misrepresent your product.

 

Mixing it up. OK, so now I’ve got you all clicking along happily, feeling comfortable and confident, it’s time to mix it up again by adding in a bit of variety.

NOTE: THIS IS NOT YOUR EVERYDAY-GARDEN-VARIETY VARIETY. 

This is purposeful variety that fits with your brand, and is designed to add the personal touch. Including real people in your photos can be a big help – for instance, if you sell beachwear, have a couple of shots of happy people wearing your creations at the beach. If you sell jewellery, have a couple of pieces displayed on the body. On your shop’s main page, a couple of people pics amongst 20 or so other product shots will not only demonstrate what these things look like on the body, but because people relate to people, will also add some friendliness/approachability to your shop.

Of course, not every product is suitable for this – you can’t wear graphic design, or furniture. You could however include images of people using your products… or not! Do some research and check out other shops in your niche and see how they style their pics. Which images do you like? Why? How can you extract elements of that and put your own spin on it?

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Improving your photography takes a little bit of knowledge, some good hard thinking, and practice practice practice – you’ll ONLY get better with the doing!

Whatever you do, I’d love to see some befores and afters!! If you’ve been around a while and would like to show off your pic from a couple of years back, and your (vastly improved) one from more recently, drop me a link.  If you’d like have a think about some of the points above this afternoon, do some planning, and have a go at it tomorrow, let me know how it went.  If you’re still feeling stuck and you can’t think of any other ways you might make them better, drop me a comment below with a link to your shop/website.

Wishing you snap-happy goodness,
Julie x

 

My wrap-up of the 2015 Artful Business Conference

Artful Business Conference
2015 artful business conference

All of us at ArtfulBizCon 2015!! (photo from Matt Clark Photo)

 

OH. MY. Seriously my head is still spinning from this wonderful, amazing, warm-hearted, beautiful, sharing conference. It was inspiring, it was practical.  It was mind-bending and down-to-earth.

I think it was even life-changing (but I’ll let you know for sure in a year or so).

Karen Gunton (The Lighthouse Revolution) spoke about the need to resonate with what you do. Make it a mission. Call it a revolution. Your purpose is a crusade, an evolution, a voyage, a legacy. To not feel like you have to change the world, but to know you can change the world for one person. To ask yourself, “Who am I NOT to share my passion, my why, what I have to offer?” I felt sure she said that just for me.

Lynda Rennick (Homelea Lass) spoke on living with chronic illness. About life teaching you what you need to know – and being open enough that you listen to its lessons. To live your life with gratitude, to go gently, and to create daily. To write yourself a love letter. About becoming more self-aware, and realising that when you fall into a rut and old habits, you can get yourself out again.

Kym Seletto (the original Rad Bitch) spoke about her journey from being an art school drop-out dealing with anxiety and depression, to realising that self-care is an enormously important thing and being a life coach, teaching others to put themselves front and centre. How to set boundaries in your life and stick to them so that you don’t get burnt out.
And she was fun. She made us all eat frogs. Truly.

Sonia Lyne (Dandelyne Embroidery) talked about her journey from making tiny embroideries to sell, to making kits that are selling worldwide. About her business ups and downs – being confronted by ‘haters’, being told she was ‘lucky’ (it’s hard work), dealing with copiers, dealing with stress. About listening to  what the customers are asking about and using that to change and grow her business. About using your problems to become your solutions. And SHARING. Always sharing. About the need to make yourself happy. About struggling with growing up in a family that always reinforced the idea to “Do things that make other people happy”. But realising that when we do things that make US happy, the happiness flows out of us to others anyway.

Nicky McKay, a web designer and branding expert, brought home the idea of how vitally important it is to brand properly, by telling us the story of her search for the perfect wedding dress. And how the reality of a messy, crowded shop not matching with their slick website left a bad taste in her mouth. And how messy websites made her simply click away. Whatever you do in your brand, be authentic; be consistent.

Sylvia Chierchia (Beautiful Money) got down and dirty with the practicalities of dealing with money. How to get clear on your financial situation, how to sort out your money purpose, what systems to have in place, and to always work with a mindset of abundance, because this is such a powerful thing.

Tash Corbin spoke on the New Feminine Dynamic of Business.  It’s all about connection – discussions, groups, support, showing your vulnerability, responding, inviting questions, caring, and knowing people. Women are so very good at connecting; we can use these skills to get to know our customers better. That’s great for the bottom line.

 

And Elle? Elle Roberts is the bee’s knees.

 

So yes, I laughed and I cried. I had tears (of overwhelm, in a good way!). I spoke to (and hugged) all of the speakers. I spoke to nearly everyone in the room, and ate the incredibly delicious food. I met heaps of my online friends, and make some new connections. I learnt a LOT about myself.

It was terrific. I’ve already booked my ticket for 2016 (you can too, I’d LOVE to see you there! Here {and yes that’s an affiliate link but if you book through me you get bonuses including 1hr 1:1 brand coaching with me!! Get in touch for full deets. Also, early bird saving $90 runs out on 29th Feb, 2016}).

And you can STILL get a recording of this year’s event too – a Silver Pass gets you LiveStream Access and a USB recording of all the speakers and all the workshops! Get it here.

 

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If you were at the conference, either virtual or in the room with me, leave me a comment telling what was YOUR biggest takeaway. If you weren’t, let me know why you’d like to go, and what/who you’d like to see!

Big love always, Julie X

Looking for your ideal customer? Here’s where to find them

looking for your ideal customer

 

OK, so you’ve got a fabulous product that you’re head and heels totally in love with and you can’t stop talking about it.

But you know, there’s one thing missing. HAVE YOU EVEN CONSIDERED YOUR CUSTOMER?

When you aim for everything you hit nothing, so they say. If you try to appeal to everyone, then you’re appealing to no one.

The only real way to have a product that sells is for it to solve a problem for your customer, fill a need, or make them feel great about themselves.

(And you can figure out who they are here.) Ask yourself what does your product or service help them with (for instance, if you’re a fine art photographer, your product helps them with their interior design; or if you sell baby clothes, you make them feel great by having a well-dressed baby). You absolutely need to get inside your potential customer’s head and figure out what it is that they’re wanting. And to do this, you need to be as specific as possible about who they are. (Yes, there is definitely trial and error and a certain amount of guesswork in this. But the more you do business with them, the more you’ll find out about them, so just keep going.) And when you know who they are and what they want, you can start to speak their language, and ask them the questions they’re asking themselves.

Because when you speak the same language, when you have the same world view as them, you automatically make an emotional connection and that’s the key to turning them into paying customers. You’ve built up rapport and trust. And when you deliver what they want, they’re so thrilled with what you do that they not only become return customers, but they spread the word about how fantastic you are. 

Ba-BAM! Business explosion! Right?

Hmmm yes well it’s all very good in theory, but WHERE IN THE HELL DO YOU FIND THOSE DAMN CUSTOMERS? You can have THE best product in the world – one that’s going to end global poverty, keep the oceans free from waste, and make small children excited about keeping their rooms tidy – but if nobody knows about it, what’s the point?

You need to get out there and find those customers.

SO here are my top seven tips for searching out and connecting with your tribe.

  1. Facebook groups – Listen, as much as you hear all the time that FB “isn’t worth the effort” because they limit and fuss around with what everybody gets to see in their feed, I absolutely believe that it’s still worth getting in there and using it – for all sorts of different reasons. If you’ve got a Facebook page for your business, use it!How FB decides what goes into people’s feeds is based on a number of factors, pretty much centred around how active the group/page is.  So if you’re in there posting every day, AND your people are commenting and liking on your posts, then your posts will be shown to more and more people. The trick is to make your posts engaging for your people – ask them about themselves (because people love talking about themselves); ask provocative questions (only if they’re relevant); entertain them with a (relevant) beautiful or amusing image.The bonus is that by asking questions, you find out heaps more about the folk who DO like your page! Use that knowledge to fine-tune your ideal customer profile.”But I only have a tiny FB following” you moan! Well I say, have you invited all of your FB friends to like your page? Your family? Asked your close friends if they mind sharing your page with their friends? Posted links to your FB page on your website? On other social media? Round ’em up, get them engaged, post shareable content, and you are well on your way to growing your following.JOIN OTHER FB GROUPS. Have you engaged in other groups to let them know who you are and what you’re doing? It doesn’t have to be all icky push and salesy (and it’s better if you aren’t) – many business groups have set days where you encouraged to share what you do and what you’re offering (for instance #PromoThursday), and sometimes people straight-out ask for particular services in these groups too – so make sure you’re around and can put your hand up! Search some hashtags to find relevant conversations about what you’re doing – this will not only allow you to see what people are asking for in your niche (so you can help tailor your services), but you can also find other groups to join. Win-win!
  2. Twitter and Instagram. Use the same strategy with your other social media –  Follow others AND ENGAGE WITH THEM, offer up good content, and use the hashtags – they’re a great search tool for finding other conversations that are happening in your niche.
  3. Pinterest – is not really ‘social’ media in the same sense that the other three biggies are. If you use it, think about how often you actually engage with the people you follow – hardly ever, right? It’s primarily a search tool for finding stuff you’re interested in (especially pretty stuff). BUT, it’s still a rich source of information about your potential customers – use the search tool to see what others are pinning, and particularly what has been pinned from your website – this will give you the best ideas about what your customers actually DO love the most (so you can keep doing more of it. You can find yourself by using www.pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite.com – and seeing what pops up.
  4. Use search engines. Google your business’s keywords and see what other conversations you can find from potential customers. You might find a great forum, or another fantastic website with a heap of interesting comments. Depending on what you find, you can join in the discussion and help out with excellent advice – people will love you for it.
  5. Guest blog about your area of expertise on a site you admire. Reach for the stars – go the Huffington Post if you dare!  If you’re not quite there yet, simply look around at the sites that you love reading and approach them for guest posting opportunities. Some don’t accept guest posts and that’s OK, but many do. Once you’ve found a site you’d like to try, make sure you do 5 minutes research and find out the name of the person you need to be writing to. I DON’T open emails that start with “Hello blogowner”, and rarely open ones that start with “Hi there”. But if it’s got “Hi Julie”, I’ll read it.Keep your proposal short and sweet – start with why you love their blog, what area of expertise you have, and a couple of suggestions for topics that are closely aligned with THEIR audience.  You might like to include a couple of links to your best articles. Be beautiful, be polite and say thank you for their time, and that you look forward to hearing from them. And follow up – if you don’t hear back from them in a week or two, contact them again with a short, polite reminder, because hey, sometimes things get put aside and forgotten! We’re all human.
  6. Reach out to other people in your niche for a collaboration. Find others with complementary skills/products – what can you do to collaborate? How can you benefit both audiences with a super valuable offer? Join forces, brainstorm, get it out there and you’ve doubled your audience! Magic.
  7. Start up a mailing list. This is THE best strategy ever for connecting with your customers. You know that if they sign up to your list, they’re already interested in what you do. So make sure you have plenty of opportunities for them to do so – on your website sidebar, on your “About” page, and on your “Contact” page.
    And reward them for it.
    Most people don’t bother signing up to a list that merely promises “regular updates” (unless of course you’re Seth Godin). If you’re selling products, you could offer to put them in a draw for a prize each month, or you could write a short e-book on your area of expertise. If you’re a jeweller for instance you could offer your best tips and tricks on looking after jewellery, and/or how to look after it while travelling. If you’re a portrait photographer, you could offer a round-up of your best tips on how to prepare for a shoot – what to wear, makeup, choosing a location, how lighting can affect the mood of your shoot, etc. If you’re a service provider, it’s a simple matter of offering an intro or brief version of one of your paid courses.

 

So that’s it! There are LOTS of different ways of searching out and connecting with those beautiful customers; you’ve just got to put in the time.

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BACK TO YOU! Have you found some innovative ways to connect with your customers? What’s your best customer-connection story? I’d love to hear! Pop a comment in the box below, share your biz name and how you’ve connected, and you never know – you might just connect with some other great people here too!

Julie x