If you’ve ever wondered where to go to gather the best-of-the-best tips for online business success, I’m telling you a blogging conference is your best investment!
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Seriously, the networking, making new friends, learning opportunities and chance to be in a room full of people who get exactly what it is that you do is invaluable!
I just returned from a whirlwind trip to Orlando for the ACTIVATE EBA Live blogging conference and I learned so much! The conference put on by (the amazing) Elite Blog Academy, features some of the internet’s most successful online entrepreneurs. The speakers included bloggers, publishers, coaches, and virtual masterminds.
And, even though this was a blogging conference, many of the takeaways are applicable to any online business owner – even handmade sellers. So, I thought I’d share some of the best tips with those of you who couldn’t be there.
But first, let me tell you a little bit about something incredible that happened while I was there! (If you don’t want to hear about my humblebrag, just scroll down to the tips.)
The Surprise that Floored Me
The Crochetpreneur blog exists as a place for crochet business owners to learn, connect, collaborate, and grow their businesses. I so deeply care about the success of every woman who trusts me to guide and champion her entrepreneurial journey. Her success is enough for me to know I’ve succeeded too…but a pat on the back sure doesn’t hurt, right?
It was already my third day in Orlando, after two days of pre-conference workshopping and an evening VIP cocktail party with flowing champagne and luscious desserts, and the main conference was starting. As the welcome reception was wrapping up, the room buzzed with excitement as the number of attendees grew from 200 to 600 or more.
I knew it might be my last chance, so I quickly grabbed this photo with Ruth Soukup, the founder of Living Well, Spending Less and Elite Blog Academy and host of ACTIVATE. (Just as an aside, I love that she is taller than me. At 5′ 10″, I don’t often get to be the shortest woman in the photo)
After the reception, we all took our seats in preparation for a welcome address from Ruth. Her speech was titled, “The State of the Blogsphere 2018,” and focused on the reality that blogging is not dead. She shared her top 3 trends in blogging for the coming year and helped us make a plan to implement them for our own blogs. Then….
Well, then she shared it’s not too late to start blogging. In fact, she said, there were several bloggers in that very room who had started their blogs in 2017 and were, simply, CRUSHING IT.
I was floored. “Where is Pam? I just saw her five minutes ago. Stand up, Pam!” Oh my gosh, I don’t like to be the center of attention, but I stood and Ruth shared about my vision to help women find personal and financial freedom through growing a successful crochet business and how much I’ve loved inspiring others to do what inspires them.
I was so honored to be spotlighted as someone whose hard work is not only paying off but also making a difference.
And then I sat down and got back to the business of learning, learning, learning because pats on the back are awesome…but focusing on accolades only gets you so far. It’s the hard work that builds a successful online business.
So, in that light, I want to share some of the tidbits of wisdom that I gathered at the conference that you can apply to your business whether you’re a blogger or not.
The 25 Tips for Online Business Success I Gleaned from the ACTIVATE Conference
1 As an entrepreneur, you have to be ALL IN. (Ruth Soukup) You can not grow a successful online business by playing at it like a hobby. I know that can be hard to hear, but it’s reality. Success doesn’t just come by simply posting something on the internet and waiting for you people to find it.
2. No one else knows what they’re doing either. (Ruth Soukup) Stop feeling like there’s that one secret strategy out there that all the successful people know and are keeping from you. Like, if you could figure out that ONE thing, you’d be successful. No one else knows what they’re doing either. We are all just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. Throw more spaghetti and you’ll learn what sticks for you and your business.
3. Be like a Care Bear. (Lena Gott) Stare down a problem until it is resolved or until you decide it’s just not important anymore. Don’t hide in the sand, but address issues head-on and with laser focus.
4. Invest in your business. (Lena Gott) While there is no magic secret that people are hiding from you, there is wisdom to be had. Don’t be afraid to invest in learning opportunities, technology, or assistance to make your business the best it can be. If you are not willing to invest in your business, why should anyone else?
5. Don’t sit down at a table of strangers and be a jerk. Better yet, simply, don’t be a jerk. (Pam Grice) I witnessed a budding blogger burn some bridges by her rude and presumtive behavior. Remember, networking opportunities may show up in unexpected places. No matter where you are, you are representing your business. Your audience, influencers, and those who might help catapult your business to success are always watching.
6. Hire slow. Fire fast. (Kate Ahl) Be careful in your hiring decisions. Make sure the people you invite to join your team fit the vision you have for both the position and the business. If you find that the fit isn’t working, be quick to cut the cord before any damage is done and so you can find the right person more quickly.
7. Serve your people. (Brian Dixon) Businesses exist to serve people. If you focus on dollars over your people, you will lose every time. Maybe not immediately, but eventually.
8. People pay for the pain to go away. (Brian Dixon) Identify a need that your audience has and create a product or service to meet that need.
9. Help your customers envision a future with your product in it. (Brian Dixon) People are more likely to support your business if they can see how their future will be better by doing so. Use your language, dialogue, and copy to help them envision that future.
10. Funnels are awesome! (Rosemarie Groner) Enough said….get your people into a sales funnel.
11. Now is the perfect time to start a blog. (Ruth Soukup) Seriously, blogging is not dead. In fact, my own research has shown that handmade sellers who start a blog have more loyal and engaged customers than those who don’t. You can set up your website today with my step-by-step tutorial.
12. You can’t speak to your audience with an open wound. (Abby Rike Rockenbaugh) Specifically for those in the services business, be sure that you’ve done the work to heal from your hurts and failures before stepping out to help others heal from theirs. It will be a better experience for both of you.
13. Business owners need to be storytellers. (Abby Rike Rockenbaugh) People will remember the stories you tell them. They won’t remember a dry list of facts and features. Become a storyteller and your people will feel an emotional connection to your products that will last. Want help learning this skill? Check out Speaking for Bloggers.
14. Backup your site. (Kim Anderson) Not kidding…just do it. If you’re not technical, pay someone to take care of it for you, but don’t gamble with the success of your business by turning a blind eye to the need to back up everything.
15. Get naked. (Ruth Soukup) No, not literally! Be vulnerable, be real. Your customers want to engage with a real person…not a dry, lifeless corporation. Show them who you are, how you’re human, and that you care about the same things.
16. Google is dumb. (Niki Robinson) Google only knows what you tell it. Tell it the truth – don’t use clickbait, don’t exaggerate, don’t try to trick Google – and it will bring you the traffic.
17. Pinterest loves keywords. Use them everywhere. (Kate Ahl) Be sure to use keywords in your Pinterest profile, boards, board descriptions, and pin descriptions. Then, hashtag them with keywords, too.
18. Have a Facebook ads strategy. (Sarah Bond) Don’t run Facebook ads at random. Know your audience, what they need to hear in order to connect with your business, what their objections may be, and where you want to guide them with your ads. Then, use the Facebook pixel to retarget ads to your people for the best chance to convert them from ad readers to loyal customers.
19. Tag brands in your social media posts. (Janel Hutton) Even if a brand hasn’t sponsored your post, if you’re highlighting a specific product, don’t be afraid to tag that brand so they know you’re doing them the favor of recommending their products. The just might share your post!
20. Product ladders are awesome. (Rosemarie Groner) Know the ultimate high-end product that you’d like to offer your customers and create a series of lower-cost products that will lead them to your best offering.
21. When 3 people ask you the same question, it’s time to create a product. (Brian Dixon) A tip passed down from Dan Miller – if your customers are always asking you the same question, that is gold. Take their questions and turn it into a product and your customers will love you for it.
22. Affiliate marketing is free money but there are pros and cons. (Tasha Agruso) Align with companies that offer products your audience will love. Just remember that you are taking a chance that your customers will leave you and become their customers instead. It’s a calculated risk and one that you’ll have to evaluate based on your business and potential alliances.
23. A/B test everything. (Rosemarie Groner) If something isn’t working as well as you’d hoped, change one thing (a photo, a tagline, a subject line, the description) and try again. Continue changing until it gets to be the best version of itself.
24. Protect your assets. (Michael Chesal) Just because your photos, descriptions, blog posts are automatically copyright protected, there is more you can do to protect yourself. Check out this post for more info from Indie Law.
25. Make a plan. Own it. Do it scared. (Ruth Soukup) This kind of takes us back to tip #1. You have to be all in. You have to be tenacious. You are a business owner and that take guts, determination, and courage. Your chances of success rest on your willingness to do the work, do it when you don’t want to, and do it scared.
So, what do you think? Great tips, right?!
Now, of course, these are not all-inclusive or all you need to know to have a successful online business, but the list does contain special nuggets of wisdom that you may not have considered before. I hope you find them helpful!
If you’re looking for more tips and resources for growing your handmade business, be sure to sign up for the Crochetpreneur newsletter and gain access to my special VIP Vault of resources, too!