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Category: Women to Watch

The sooner you get started the closer you will be to having the business and life you want.

Was anyone else obsessed with the TV show Clean House on the Style Network? It went off the air in 2011, but the premise is that the Clean House crew  – headed up by Niecy Nash (and her signature hair flower), her right hand handy-man Matt Iseman, hilarious and moody designer Mark Brunetz and southern belle yard sale queen Trish Suhr – would all show up at your ridiculously dirty, cluttered hoarder house and help you clean it, and they would sell all your shit in a yard sale and use the money to remodel your house.

My favorite part about that show was when the cleanup crew wanted to get rid of something hideous yet sentimental to the homeowner, they would offer the homeowner something shiny and new to replace the sad memory… And it NEVER FAILED that Niecy would catch the homeowner red handed sneaking that monstrosity out to their car to try to secretly keep it. Trust me, you don’t want to get caught by Niecy Nash.

What’s all this have to do with this month’s Woman to Watch, Yolanda Acree? She’s like the internet version of Clean House! Except instead of selling all your shit in a yard sale, she’s going to teach you how to declutter your life physically and emotionally while avoiding becoming pessimistic and underwhelmed with life.

Yolanda’s website is a gorgeous testament to her minimalist lifestyle. You can check it out here. Read on to learn more about Yolanda, her business and her advice for anyone just getting started in online business.

When did you decide to start your business and why?

I started coaching in May 2013. I created my first site and started blogging in April 2014. I didn’t start paid coaching until August 2014. What propelled me to begin was my discontent with my own life and wanting to help others pursue their dreams and create the lives they wanted. Adopting a minimalist lifestyle also helped me to focus on my dream of being an entrepreneur.

Editor’s Note – you can check out Yolanda’s free declutter workbook here.

What do you feel makes your target audience special?

We are women who serious about simplicity. We don’t want to “have it all”, we just want to have what’s best for us.

Why did you decide to build your WordPress site yourself?

I built my first site using SquareSpace because it was simple to learn and quick to set up. I didn’t understand WordPress and didn’t want to try either. As time went on, my coaching mentor and others recommended WordPress for the SEO plugins that could help me be found online. As my contract was coming to a close, I decided to bite the bullet and diy my WordPress site. I really expected the worse, but fortunately, I happened upon your 5 Day Website Challenge in a Facebook group and it eased my fears.

What was the most difficult thing about creating your WordPress site?

The most difficult part was learning how to use WordPress itself. I came from SquareSpace, which was more intuitive in my opinion, but WordPress has more options for control and customization.

What was the easiest thing about it?

The easiest thing was having your videos to refer to and being able to ask questions if needed. I also used your blog for assistance during the construction. It really wasn’t that hard to create when looking back on it.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

Start now. You do not need to know everything about everything. You do not need to have a perfect website or offering. You will make mistakes along the way and learn a lot about yourself and your business. The sooner you get started the closer you will be to having the business and life you want.

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I would have set my site up when I first started coaching. I admit, I wasn’t confident enough and thought I needed to know more, but I wish I would’ve just went for it and learned along the way because that’s what I ended up doing anyway.

How long did it take you to build your WordPress site?

About two weeks total before I went live.

How do you promote your site?

Social media is my biggest promotion tool.

Do you have an email list, and if so, what is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

I do have an email list. Sharing my opt- in in Facebook groups and making Youtube videos have helped me grow my list the most.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.?

Not yet. Building my WordPress site also coincided with a rebrand, so my main focus is continuing to build my list while I’m figuring out what my signature product will be. Trying to take my own advice (from above) and put something out there sooner rather than later.

Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts?

Rosetta Thurman of  Happy Black Woman
Regina Anaejionu of byRegina
Tim Brownson of A Daring Adventure and Coach the Life Coach

You can find Yolanda all over the web here:
URL: http://yolandavacree.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/yolandavacree
Twitter: http://twitter.com/yolandavacree
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/yolandavacree

Do Your Homework First

Jemma Vanderboon is a Virtual Assistant who knows firsthand how much work goes in to building an online business – which is why she loves helping people succeed by offering virtual assistant services and business support to small business owners.

She has taken a very practical approach to starting a business and to building her WordPress site, um, which I totally love because it sounds just like me LOL! Read on to learn more about what Jemma does, why she started her own business and her experience building her own WordPress site!

When did you decide to start your business and why?

I had been thinking about it for months but took the leap in January 2015. I did it for a couple of reasons but the main thing was that I LOVED the work! I had been doing VA work for about 12 months but had treated it more like a sideline hobby and all of a sudden I thought why?! I love doing this! I need to concentrate on this (and not on that nice and secure job which I also happen to love).

What do you feel makes your target audience special?

I really enjoy working with “mummy-preneurs”. I have a little one at home and understand how hard it is to juggle everything and be everything to everyone. When I see the hours that these women are putting into their business and the guilt that they feel as it sometimes takes them away from their families, it just makes me want to help them even more!

Why did you decide to build your WordPress site yourself?

I am more than a little geeky and building a website is something I’ve always wanted to do but had no idea where to start! And from a business point of view, I wanted to be offer this as a service, and if not building, at least maintenance. I have worked with Joomla before, but never WordPress.

What was the most difficult thing about creating your WordPress site?

I think understanding the initial steps of buying a domain… Then hosting… And then… What? LOL! Putting all those initial steps together was definitely the hardest but once I had hit the Dashboard of my site, things got easier!
And then of course, wanting to move something, just a little bit and not knowing coding to be able to do it! Haha!

What was the easiest thing about it?

Understanding the WordPress dashboard. It is all quite logical when you get into it.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

Do your homework first and don’t necessarily listen to all the “rah rah” coaches that will tell you to quit your job and follow your dreams… You need to be realistic. Understand that clients and income don’t just appear once you decide to launch. There are A LOT of hours to be put in before that happens!

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I wouldn’t have spent so much time reading motivational quotes from “Rah Rah” coaches on Facebook! LOL! I wouldn’t have procrastinated so long to get started and still to this day I would like to spend more time marketing myself because without marketing, no one knows your business exists!

How long did it take you to build your WordPress site?

I did it within your 5 Days, but it is a continual work in progress and I make tweaks to it regularly.

How do you promote your site?

I primarily push it within my networking groups and am working on the SEO. I have just this week signed up to an SEO course so am looking forward to putting what I learn into practice on my own site.

Do you have an email list, and if so, what is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

Ummm… No. And I know this is the cardinal sin of websites! It will be happening in the VERY near future though.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.?

I advertise my services and packages on my site but am actually halfway through working with a copywriter at the moment and will be taking all prices off. I am considering adding a link to another page for affiliate programs…

Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts?

My favourite blogging/advice sites and facebook pages are definitely Flying Solo and Post Planner.

You can connect with Jemma on her website at www.yourvirtualasset.com and on Facebook.

How To Plan For Success

BFFs, meet Jenn. Since I met her virtually in January, I’ve decided that we are sisters from another mister. She holds very special place in WP*BFF history – she is my very first email subscriber, and you always remember your first!

I had decided that I wanted to give teaching WordPress a shot, and I outlined the 5 Day Challenge and starting recording the training before I even had an idea of how to create an email list. One day I finally googled “how to build an email list”, found Nathalie Lussier’s 30 Day List Building Challenge, signed up, joined the Facebook group and when provided an opportunity to post a link to the 5 Day Website Challenge, Jenn was the first to sign up.

Here’s what I screamed in my living room when I got that new subscriber email from MailChimp: “OMG someone signed up for my freebie!!! YAY!!! OMG, I can’t believe this is actually happening *squealing and clapping*!!”

My husband thought we won the lottery or something I was acting like such a crazy person. But the validation that came from that very first subscriber and our subsequent interactions gave me more momentum than any stupid winning lottery ticket. Well, I think so, I’m sure I’ll never know…

Jenn is an amazing coach who will help you work wonders in your business. She can spot exactly where you’re feeling stuck or unsure, she asks you pointed questions that will step you through making a decision on what actions are best for you to take, and she’ll encourage you the whole way.

She’s like a mind-reader, therapist and BFF all wrapped up into one awesome package.

Read on to learn more about Jenn, her experience building her WordPress site as my very first 5 Day Challenger, and learn all about her coaching business, Works Wonders Coaching.

When did you start your business and why?

In May of 2014, I started working towards my coaching certification and launched my first site. I started working one on one with people pretty quickly after that.

Everywhere I looked, I saw really smart and ambitious people who really put a lot of effort and money into their education and career. And these people didn’t feel happy, fulfilled, or valued at work- and worse, they didn’t feel like they were having the impact on the world that they were hoping to have. On top of that, they were usually so exhausted from their job and commute that their personal life was suffering too.

I knew all along that these were the people that I wanted to work with, to help them reconnect with their passion and support them as they worked to reclaim their careers and lives.

What do you feel makes your audience/readers special?

I really feel that my readers and clients are super special!

I know every coach and blogger probably feels that way but my clients are smart, ambitious and committed to social justice and change. They’re very connected to having a larger purpose and have a bigger, better vision for the world and for themselves.

They’re students, non-profit executives, volunteers, activists, and professionals, business owners and corporate professionals and honestly, they’re often more than one of these at the same time. I love the professional breadth and motivation of the the people that I work with.

Did anything surprise you about creating your website?

My first website was a Wix site and I realized right away how limited that was. It was very hard to implement any serious list building strategy with that functionality. So my first surprise was that I invested time and money in something that wasn’t going to be able to grow with me.

Then I found your Five Day Website Challenge and it was a game-changer! Not only did it make the WordPress piece *super* easy, it required that I really think about branding. It took me more than five days because I was super indecisive about branding. Making those decisions are really challenging and really require a sense of clarity and commitment about your business.

I was also surprised how comfortable I felt with WordPress, after the Five Day Challenge was over. I was able to make changes and continue to build my page without any major issues. So, thanks, Shannon! (editor’s note – you’re welcome BFF!)

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business online?

Plan for success.

It’s so easy to operate from a place of fear that I’ve been unprepared when things were actually successful!

I offered free sessions I worried nobody would want and they filled up. I had paying clients almost right away and I never thought that would happen. I had workshops that I wasn’t sure anyone would sign up for and they ended up nearly full. I’ve sent emails that I wasn’t sure anyone would read and they were my most popular newsletters.

Set yourself up like you’re going to have clients or work right away. Have contracts or agreements prepared and make time in your schedule. At one point, I had clients but not enough time to fit them into my schedule!

If you’re going to launch a business, plan for success. Create the space, take small steps if you have to, let go of what you need to and be ready for when people want to work with you.

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I would skip with Wix site. Also I would spend more time thinking about branding and quality images for my site and blog. These elements alone can really elevate your brand. Your site might as well be your store or your home so you want it to serve your customers and be something that you’re excited to share!

I would also skip the two years I spent wondering whether or not I could actually start a business! I really could have used that time to start a business!

How long did it take you to launch your website once you decided to start a business?

My Wix site took me a month. This WordPress site took probably a week to set up but if you don’t have some images, content, or branding already figured out, it can definitely take longer.

Your site is always going to be a work in progress. Your ideal audience is going to get that. I spend so much time helping clients who are dealing with perfectionism that I felt that it was really important for me to hit publish and show them that the world doesn’t end when you have typo or only have a welcome page.

How did you promote your site when you first started out? Has anything changed between then and how?

I’m still working on this but I do have a Facebook page and a FB group. My mailing list sends a lot of people to my site. I also use Buffer to automate posts. Since I’ve improved my graphics, I’ve also gotten more traffic through Pinterest. I’ve also posted or shared workshops on sites for non-profit professionals and that’s helped a lot too!

Do you have an email list, and if so, what is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

I do have a list! I hold online workshops using Google Hangout and they’ve helped me grow my list of subscribers.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.?

I don’t earn money from my site other than my services. I am in the process of creating products and that will be happening soon!

Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts?

I really love Maria Coz at Femtrepreneur. I think she’s been able to create an authentic, quirky and creative brand online. I was relieved to find her site because I think she shows how to make online marketing work without creating a site with all of these cookie cutter elements. Her blog is really honest and she talks about what she feels comfortable with and what she doesn’t. She doesn’t just employ marketing strategies that work, she employs ones that work for her and her brand and that’s made me feel like “Ok, I don’t have to do this because everyone does it and says it works” and now I ask “Does this work for me and what I represent?”

I’m also a fan of Natalie MacNeil and Denise Duffield-Thomas. I’m a sociologist by training, so if you had told me a year ago, that I would be a huge fan of someone who believes in manifesting money, I would never have believed you but Denise gives really great, actionable steps about money that have helped me to feel confident about investing in my business. Natalie’s “She Takes on the World TV” is awesome too.

Check out Work Wonders Coaching here and get some amazing free resources, and be sure to sign up for the Work Wonder VIP list – you’ll get some fantastic tips and great motivation. You can also find Jenn on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.


If you’re really passionate about something and you have an idea of what you want, everything else will follow.

Emily Brown is a transformational weight loss and lifestyle coach. After experiencing some alarming health issues in her 20’s, Emily started down a relentless path to figure out what was going on with herself and heal her issues through nutritional, physical and lifestyle changes – and she has approached building her WordPress site and online business with the same persistence and perseverance.

Read on to learn more about Emily, her experience building her WordPress site and her advice for people just starting out.

When did you decide to start Nourishing Transformations and why?

I started working on my business in November 2014 and launched it in January 2015. The year before I had lost my job, doing what I love, unexpectedly when the company I worked for was forced to close their doors overnight.

For most of 2014 I was feeling lost, and while I took on a part-time job that I enjoyed I was still missing my passion, which is helping women feel great in their bodies (physically, mentally and emotionally) and release weight through natural diet and lifestyle changes.

I wasn’t fulfilled or fully expressing my talents and gifts. I also knew I wanted to create a life of freedom to set my own schedule, work when I wanted and take a day off or a vacation when I wanted, not when someone else approved it.

What do you feel makes your target audience special?

They are rock star women who do it all – work, take care of their families, do the shopping, cook, clean, run the errands and the list goes on. Because of this they are tired, overwhelmed and depressed about their body and health.

And while they know so much and do so much they are not quite sure how to go about taking care of themselves and the steps to get the health, happiness, and lifestyle they desire. They know it’s important and they want to take the best care of themselves so they seek that guidance.

Why did you decide to build your WordPress site yourself?

Money! With being out of a full-time job for a year and just starting up a business I really didn’t want to shell out $1500 or more to have someone design a website for me.

Plus I thought “what if I don’t love it?”, then do I have to pay more money for additional changes? No thank you!

Even with all that though I was still debating hiring someone. How could I possibly do it myself? I’m not a “techie”. I knew nothing about building a website.

That’s when someone shared your FREE 5 Day WordPress Website Challenge with me. Bingo, my prayers were answered! Seriously, thank you so much! Editor’s note: “Aw, shucks, I’m blushing :)”

What was the most difficult thing about creating your WordPress site?

I’d say creating the content to put on my website and the time it took me, which I know isn’t the creating of the website. Sure there were many times I had questions and even once when I thought I lost everything I had been working on, but Shannon has always been there to answer my questions and “save the day” in her private Facebook group.

How many non “techie” people can say they created a website, and only spent about $70 plus domain fees? I learned some new skills for my business and saved a ton of money!

What was the easiest thing about it?

The up keep. I don’t have to pay someone monthly to make sure things are running smoothly. Once I had all the major bones up from your tutorials then it was just about tweaking fonts, colors, where I want to put pictures, etc. It’s so easy now to go in and add a new blog post or a plugin.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

Have an idea for what you want to do and how you would like it to look. Surround yourself with people who are supportive and can assist you on your journey and then just start! If you’re really passionate about something and you have an idea of what you want, everything else will follow.

Even if you’re not sure how to do something right now, trust you will figure it out when the time comes. And ask for help, when you need it. That’s how I’m able to do it! Start now and take the steps to make your dream a reality. I also joined a program to help walk me through the steps of setting up an online coaching business – well worth the money!

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I feel like things happen for a reason and at the time they are supposed to (to help me learn and grow at the right time), but if I could go back in time I would have started my business sooner. I’m so much happier doing something I love and am passionate about. I think of how far I have come in just 6 months and wonder where the next 6 months will lead me. It’s pretty exciting!

How long did it take you to build your WordPress site?

I would say I spent 30-40 hours. It took me two months and that’s because I couldn’t devote the time I wanted to it as I was in 3 different training courses plus already working with clients. If it weren’t for that and writing the content for my website I would have been finished a lot sooner.

How do you promote your site?

I first started by emailing all my friends and family, the people who love and support me, and told them what I was doing. I asked them to share with their friends and family to help spread the word.

Since then I’ve also set up a business Facebook page and started using social media to announce my business. I’m also in some online courses that have brought me together with other health and wellness professionals and we are supporting each other by sharing our pages and inviting others to “like” and follow us. I have not started paying for Facebook advertising, but I’m sure that will be a step I take soon.

Do you have an email list, and if so, what is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

Yes I have an email list. Having an opt-in on my website has been extremely helpful. This instantly allows anyone who visits my site to sign up and receive my free 5 Secrets to Release Weight & Improve Health Naturally. I also invite people to sign up for my 5 Secrets by posting on Facebook and other social media outlets as well as inviting people I meet in person. I even added it to my business cards!

Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts?

Oh gosh, this is hard. There are so many and for so many different reasons, personally and professionally. Since I’m passionate about health and wellness I’ll share those. I don’t know if this counts, but two of my favorite people to follow are Dr. Axe, whose program I just graduated from at the Institute of Nutritional Leadership and Dr. Mercola. They both produce amazing content on the latest information for preventing disease and taking care of yourself in a healthy and natural way, which is what I’m all about!

You can find Emily at all the links below, and be sure to sign up for her 5 Secrets to Release Weight & Improve Health Naturally!

As an aside, I absolutely LOVE that the 5 Day Website Challenge is enabling people like Emily to help other people! If you have a gift and a passion for something, think about sharing it with the world – it can be life-changing for someone!

Instagram: nourishingtransformations
Service: Natural Health & Weight Release 90 Day Total Transformation Program

You never know when your side business could turn into something bigger.

If Catherine Shefski could control time, I bet she’d take us all back to kindergarten when all we were doing is learning, screwing up, getting gentle guidance to learn from our mistakes and not judging ourselves so damn much.

I’m pretty sure that when I messed up the fingerings for Mary Had a Little Lamb on my brown plastic recorder I didn’t call myself stupid or tell myself I’d never be able to remember that Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge or FACE… I don’t know, I have a bad memory. You’d have to ask my music teacher Mrs. Boring.

But screw up as an adult? We can be pretty unforgiving…

But back to Catherine: She’s all about inspiring women to reconnect with what they want out of the next season of their life. And helping them connect with what they want to learn to do without all the self-judgment.

She also built her own WordPress site – so read on to learn more about Catherine, what she does for a living and her experience creating her online business.


When did you decide to start your business and why?

Over the past two or three years I’ve had a lot of change in my life. I had been teaching piano for most of my life, something I enjoy. Several of my students were women who “always wanted to learn how to play.” But then I saw how stressed they were and how hard they were on themselves when they made mistakes. That’s when I started reading about the value of play for adults and how play encourages creativity. So the blog was born!

What do you feel makes your target audience special?

My target audience is women in midlife. Their kids are grown and they’re thinking about starting a new career or creative endeavor. Many women I talk to don’t know what they want to do when they reach this crossroad because they’ve been so busy taking care of everyone else in their life and not taking time for themselves. I particularly enjoy sharing stories about women who have taken risks, maybe left the corporate world to follow their dreams, or overcome obstacles. I find these stories very inspiring and I hope my readers do too.

Why did you decide to build your WordPress site yourself?

I never considered any other option. Years ago I built websites using Microsoft Front Page. Using WordPress themes is so much more fun, especially with the Make’s Page Builder Plugin. This was the seventh WordPress site I built, but the first one with the Make Theme using plugins.

What was the most difficult thing about creating your WordPress site?

For me the most difficult, but also the most fun, part of building a WordPress site is the branding. I can spend hours looking at color palettes, fonts, and images. Finally I just have to make a choice and just go with it. I suppose it’s just procrastination, but there are so many beautiful choices it’s hard to decide on just one.

What was the easiest thing about it?

For me the easiest is the UX. I love saying that! UX is user experience and I’m just starting to get my feet wet in that area. After going to so many websites, I think I have a good grasp of what would be intuitive navigation for the reader. (I hope so, anyway.)

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

Honestly, I always encourage people to start a business. Whether it’s an Etsy Shop, eBay, becoming an Amazon Affiliate, or selling things at a flea market… I think everyone should give it a try. Once you get the bug, you’ll always want to have a side business. Who knows… it just may turn into something much bigger!

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I would have kept my mailing list that I had built to over 2000 subscribers fifteen years ago. Back then I was writing a website geared towards women with young children. Those kids would be in college now and the subscribers would be my target audience!

How long did it take you to build your WordPress site?

I followed the WP*BFF program and built it in 5 days.

How do you promote your site?

Twitter, FB, Pinterest and Google+. (Twitter is my favorite!) I also cross promote between two or three other blogs I have which are still active and I love networking with other bloggers and web entrepreneurs.

Do you have an email list, and if so, what is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

Ugh. Don’t mention email list. (see the question about going back in time.) But yes, I do have an email list. I have a Free mini-course that I’m offering in exchange for signing up for the mailing list, but it’s not very effective. I’d love to learn more about growing my list.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.?

I offer coaching for women, but I’m also working on downloadable e-courses and e-books. I hope to make money from my information products.

Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts?

James Altucher, Seth Godin, Gabrielle Bernstein, Tara Gentile, Kylie Patchett, Regina Anaejionu of byRegina.com And of course you, Shannon. There are too many to list!

Connect with Catherine!

CatherineShefski | Designing Your Second Act


50 Ordinary Women (doing extraordinary things)


Your Organic Evolution – Free Mini-Course with email signup






A Repeatable System For Creating, Packaging and Selling Your Services

Rebecca Tracey is the head/only honcho at The Uncaged Life where she works with clients from all over the world who want to have the freedom of working from anywhere by running their own online business.

She helps people figure out what the hell they’re doing in their businesses, create packages that sell, and helps them actually take action on the things they want to do. Rebecca runs an online community of over 3000 solopreneurs.

She started her business while living in a van, loves rock climbing and riding her bike around Toronto, and is genuinely obsessed with helping people live their version of Uncaged.

Becca has been an amazing virtual mentor to me since I stumbled upon her website while searching for women to interview for for my Women to Watch Series.

I connected instantly with her message, emailed her to ask for an interview and then promptly purchased Biz Shiz* joined the Uncaged Lifers Facebook group and voraciously read all of her blog posts.

Then found a little nugget of gold on her website called Hey, Nice Package!* It took me a couple of weeks to decide to buy it because I can’t just let $297 leave my bank account without careful consideration… If there’s one thing to know about me, I don’t part with money easily.

I can run the tech of an online business in my sleep, but I’ve struggled with designing, packaging and marketing my services. So when I come across an expert or product that helps me out in such a drastic way I can’t not share it with you guys.

If you don’t have a handle on WHAT, exactly, to sell (so you haven’t created anything at all), or you created a generic package based on what everyone else was offering, but it’s not exactly working for you…and you want to learn how to package up your services in a way that 1) feels GOOD for you, 2) feels GOOD for your clients and 3) makes you some goddamn money (finally) – then you need to check out Hey, Nice Package!

It will show you a repeatable system for creating, packaging and selling your services – the same system I used to put together WP*OMG.

What I learned from Hey, Nice Package! I could not have figured out on my own – or it would have taken months of trial and error…


Read on to learn more about Becca, when you should start a website and what she wishes she would have done sooner – AND enter to win Hey, Nice Package!

When did you start The Uncaged Life and why?

I have been living my Uncaged life my entire life… but I started my business in 2011. I knew that I wanted to do work that I cared about and I knew that I could never work on someone else’s schedule – so I took matters into my own hands and created something that would fit all my criteria!

What do you feel makes your audience/readers special?

My Uncaged Lifers are all hellbent on creating the freedom they crave, and are all so dedicated to making the most of LIFE by making work something they actually enjoy (imagine that!). They’re a unique group of people who are taking their lives and their careers outside the box (er… cage).

Did anything surprise you about creating your original website? What about your latest site?

I was surprised at how much stupid finnicky back end shit there was to do. I created it myself and there definitely weren’t as many user-friendly themes as there are now. My current site is getting an overhaul soon because it’s built on a janky theme that causes some problems behind the scenes. It’s SO worth it to invest and do it right!

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

START. Get a little bit clear on what you want to do, then start doing it. The rest of the clarity will come. Also, start your website right away. Do it yourself on the cheap (blogging is a GREAT way to get more clarity and to help hone your voice). Start to build it up as you go, and when you’re clear on what your niche is and what you’re selling, invest in having it done properly. But getting it up right away makes everything feel more REAL, and that will help keep you motivated!

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I would invest in business coaching sooner. It helps cut through all the crap you shouldn’t be worried about and helps you grow faster.

How long did it take you to launch your business once you decided to do it? 

It was immediate. I got started on my website that day and was taking on clients the next day. When I want something, I don’t like to waste any time 🙂

Did you launch your business while working another job?

No, I was happily fun-employed when I started my business, so I had lots of time to work on it. I was planning a long roadtrip 5 months in the future, so it was a good kick in the pants to get things off the ground before I left!

How did you promote your site when you first started out? Has anything changed between then and how?

I emailed everyone I know and told them about it, started blogging regularly and posting on social media, and I started interviewing other people with businesses on my blog.

Now I focus on marketing to my existing email list and using FB ads to get in front of new audiences.

What is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

Guest posting on other people’s sites has worked really well for me! It’s easy and free and it works!

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.? 

Nope, that’s not my business model. I sell services and courses as a coach and consultant!

Who are your favorite bloggers, podcasts and/or coaches?

Honestly, I don’t follow many people online! It screws with my head and I find it really hard to focus on my own work when I’m constantly watching what everyone else is going, so I try to keep my eyes on my own paper! That being said, I love the Fizzle podcast, and my coaching mastermind ladies are the BEST and all have amazing businesses (hi Andrea, Kira, and Amy!)

I absolutely love Becca’s advice about just starting your site on your own, and then investing in a professional design once you gain some momentum. 

Knowing how to do it yourself before you hire it out is priceless – you’ll know what’s possible, what to expect and how to better communicate with a designer – and you’ll always be able to manage your own site if you need to.

You can find Becca online at www.theuncagedlife.com, on Facebook here and follow her on Twitter here.

*Biz Shiz will no longer be available for sale after April 24, 2015.

*this is my affiliate link because HNP is amazing and I love sharing life-changing stuff with you guys!

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know – But You Can Learn!

Nicole Clark’s passion is helping women shift habits and routines and replace limiting beliefs so they can create the business and life of their dreams.

Many of us have limiting beliefs regarding our ability to execute things like our website and other technology – but it’s people like Nicole that help us smash those self-imposed boundaries and start going after everything we’ve ever wanted.

Read on to learn more about Nicole, her business Kisstrategies, and the lessons she learned building her own website with WordPress. Read more

You Already Know Enough

Michelle Warner’s business is mentoring entrepreneurs. She knows that you are passionate about your business idea but are hesitant to start. She takes those of you that are unsure and guides you down the path that she’s already been down. She’s your business BFF!

Michelle also created her business website in WordPress so she could maintain control of her company’s most important asset.

Read on to learn more about Michelle, what she does for fellow entrepreneurs and her take on building her WordPress site.

When did you start The Strategy Studios and why?

I started the Strategy Studios about a year ago because I saw too many would-be business owners never getting around to starting their business, or starting a business and then never playing big because they weren’t confidant in the decisions they were making, and it physically hurt me to see people feeling that way.

Partly because I’ve started companies myself and remember feeling that way when I was a first-time entrepreneur. And also because I realized when I was running my own companies that my favorite thing about the job was actually helping my fellow entrepreneurs figure out solutions to messy problems they were facing in getting their stuff off the ground.

So I decided I should probably stop building my own stuff and focus on helping everyone else. Ever since then I’ve been happily mentoring entrepreneurs and proudly watching their companies grow and prosper.

What do you feel makes your target audience special?

Well first of all I love entrepreneurs. I’m one myself, you are as well, so you know it takes a special kind of courage to put your idea out there and I have so much respect for anyone who goes down this path.

And then factoring in that most of the entrepreneurs I work with are doing this for the first time makes them even more special to me.  As an entrepreneur it takes an insane amount of courage every time you start a new company, and the first time, well you can’t even measure the amount of courage that takes. So I have mad respect for my clients and will go to the ends of the earth to make sure they’re successful.

Why did you decide to build your WordPress site yourself?

There were a few reasons. First I knew that since it was a new company I’d be learning everyday and wanting to make changes quickly and on the fly, so I didn’t want to have to go through someone else to do that.

I also wanted to know I had complete control over my site. My work is almost all online-based so my website is the center of everything and I wasn’t comfortable turning over control to my new company’s most important asset.

I wanted to know that I was in control of my business. Down the line I’m sure I’ll outsource some design and special features, but I’ll always keep the core of the site in my hands. That’s just how I roll.

What was the most difficult thing about creating your WordPress site?

I was familiar enough that no one piece was a huge struggle to figure out, so I’d say the most difficult thing was being in charge of it all and not having a second set of eyes on things.

When you’re coding (a term I use very loosely), designing, linking up back end systems for payment, email, etc. along with writing and editing the site by yourself it’s difficult to take that step back and make sure you’re communicating what you want to communicate. I’m constantly finding things that I want to tweak and change.

What was the easiest thing about it?

Choosing the color palette. I love my colors.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

Start Now. You’ll be ok and you already know enough. My whole business is around helping people finally start what they’ve been planning to start for awhile, so “Start Now” is my mantra. In fact I offer a whole free training series on my website on this topic! 

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I would take my own advice and start Strategy Studios sooner! I probably knew I wanted to do it for a year to 18 months before I actually went for it. Which makes me even more passionate about helping others not make that mistake.

How long did it take you to launch your site?

A couple of weeks. I had the basic site up in 2 days but then took time to add in all of the backend plug-ins I use in order to accept payment, schedule client appointments, enable email and program sign-ups, all that fun stuff that has to communicate in the background. 

How do you promote your site?

I approach my site and online work in general as digital networking. It’s the same approach I take when I’m in the room with people, only I’m communicating online. So I promote it by participating in Facebook groups, and connecting with people over email, Skype and all the social networks. I also do a lot of speaking and that drives traffic to my site. 

Do you have an email list, and if so, what is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

Yes, I have an email list, and the most effective way I’ve grown it is by offering incredibly valuable free content up front.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.? 

Yes – my clients book my mentoring and advising services through my site. 

Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts?

I’m loving podcasts right now so I’ll mostly focus there:

·       StartUp Podcast and Reply All from Gimlet Media

·       Good Life Project from Jonathan Fields

·       The Art of Charm

·       Ask Pat from Pat Flynn

·       The Moth

And a few blogs on my reading list:

·       Derek Halpern

·       Peter Shallard

·       Seth Godin

·      And this isn’t technically a blog, it’s a video series, but lately Susan Ferraro’s been blowing my mind over at easypeasyloa.com.

Need help starting? Check out the Strategy Studios and sign up for her free “It’s OK to Start Free Business Building Fest!” Find her on Twitter at http://twitter.com/warnermichelle and Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/strategystudios.

Nailed It!

Ashleigh Nails is passionate about helping business and life coaches relieve themselves of the day to day burdens of running an online business.

Ashleigh understands that solopreneurs have high-level goals, but often lack the support they need to get there. That’s where she steps in to expertly execute those daily tasks that are super-important to your business so you can be laser-focused on helping your clients. And she created her own WordPress site to showcase her services.

Read on to learn more about Ashleigh and how she’s nailing her VA business with WordPress.

When did you start your VA business and why?

I actually started www.ashleighnails.com just a couple of months ago. For two years I was an intern for various business/life coaches working as their virtual assistant as well as content marketing specialist.

I realized working with them just how stressful running a business can be, especially the marketing aspect. So I decided to start my company to give entrepreneurs and small business owners relief of what I call “entrepreneurial stress.” As a virtual assistant specializing in content marketing, my mission is to help my clients grow their online presence.

What do you feel makes your customers special?

I create a personal relationship with them; with so many businesses you place your order receive the service or product and that’s the end of the relationship. With my clients we get to know each other on a business and personal level. I feel that If I’m going to assist you, you should not only trust me but enjoy me! 

Why did you decide to build your WordPress site yourself?

I built my WordPress site myself because I was just starting my business and I didn’t have the money to pay someone else to do it for me. It’s a great investment but was too expensive for me. I also built my own site because I had been working with coaches who had built their own, and they offered their knowledge and support.

What was the most difficult thing about creating your WordPress site?

One of the most difficult things I faced was customizing the site. Some of the smallest “tweaks” such as creating customized links for each were a bit hard for me.

What was the easiest thing about it?

The easiest thing was picking my theme! WordPress provides many different site layouts that you can customize and make your own, which definitely relieved me of the stress of even thinking about creating my site from scratch.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

I would tell them to be sure to come up with a marketing plan. You don’t have to write it out as if it’s a business plan, but be sure to have a solid strategy. Consider what platforms you’d like to use and what the message is you want your audience to get from your marketing. It’s very easy to create a Facebook and Twitter account but it can be difficult being consistent and spreading your message.

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I would have prepared my content for my site before creating it, because after launching it I had writer’s remorse about different things such as my “About Me” and kept changing what I had originally wrote.

How long did it take you to launch your site?

It took me a couple of weeks to launch my site, a lot of my time was spent creating the content for the site.

How do you promote your site?

I promote my site through different Facebook groups that are focused on helping and supporting entrepreneurs. I also have a blog, which is a big part of my site; and it’s through these posts that I’m able to build and create traffic back to my site.

Do you have an email list, and if so, what is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

I have started to build my email list, but it’s definitely a work in progress. So far I have used two ways to begin building it, and that’s through consultations that I have with potential clients as well as creating an opt-in page for a product I created.

Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts?

I have worked with Anita Kirkman and Kenya Halliburton, and I enjoy their blogs. They are business and life coaches, so I find their blogs helpful in my journey as an entrepreneur.

If you need some help with your content marketing and day to day tasks, Ashleigh just might be your girl! She’ll take care of your marketing needs while you take a coffee break – and I don’t know about you but that sounds pretty awesome to me. You can find Ashleigh at www.ashleighnails.com

Knowing the Why Makes the How Much More Clear

Kim Yuhl is on a mission to help you define happiness. She believes that if your goal is to be happy, you’ll never be happy. She teaches you how to live in the moment and focus on the journey, not the destination.

Kim has built a gorgeous WordPress site to support her coaching business. Read on to learn more about Kim’s philosophy, how she built her site and how she promotes her coaching business. Oh, and check out her quote art page – I’m thinking Pinterest for days!!

When did you start your business and why?

I started my current business about 1 1/2 years ago. My husband lost his job and ended up finding his dream job … in Thailand. That means I had to close my boutique, pack up my kids and move half-way around the world.

After being asked by several small business to help them with their social media, I sort of fell into the world. But I didn’t love it. I was good at it but it wasn’t what I was meant to do. Then tragedy struck and my brother was murdered. That gave me a whole new perspective on life.

I realized mindset was the biggest culprit to failing businesses and failing life. As I worked through the grief of losing my brother it became clear to me that I had life lessons to share. Now instead of working with people on the how, I help them with the why. Answering the why makes the how much more clear.

What do you feel makes your audience/readers special?

I think it is because we are living the same path. I have experienced, felt and learned the same lessons that my audience has felt or is feeling. We have a mutual respect for each other’s process and our individual journeys knowing there is a common thread tying us together.

Why did you decide to build your WordPress site yourself?

I had been blogging for a few years, so I knew enough to get me started. I figured when I started making money I could hire a designer or get help.  When the time came though, I knew what I wanted and it just seemed easier to sort of figure it out myself. It wasn’t always as easy as I initially thought but the answers are out there if you are persistent enough.

What was the most difficult thing about creating your WordPress site?

The most difficult thing is customizing a theme. I found I liked one thing from one theme and something else from another but not one had everything I wanted. I had a vision and trying to make that a reality was hard. I am not even sure I have been 100% successful but I do love my site.

What was the easiest thing about it?

I found the initial setup to be the easiest. WordPress makes it pretty easy to get started. I started on a self-hosted blog, so I didn’t have to deal with moving it or anything like that.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

First and foremost, know your why and stay true to that. Know you can’t please everyone and be okay with that. I think that was the hardest lesson to learn.

With regards to WordPress start out on a self-hosted site, it gives your business credibility and it saves you some trouble down the line.

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I would put more emphasis on growing my list early on. I think about all the wasted time and potential leads and it makes me cringe.

How long did it take you to launch your site?

A few hours to launch. I did have it planned out with some initial blog posts and images ready to go. It has taken much more time to get it to the point where I am making money from it. It continues to evolve every day and now I just enjoy the process.

How do you promote your site?

I use social media (Facebook and Twitter mainly), I blog, I guest post, I comment on other posts, I speak, I hold webinars. Coming soon, I am getting ready to start a podcast and my first book is about ready to launch.

Do you have an email list, and if so, what is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

Strategic guest posting has by far been the most successful tactic in growing my list. I make it a point to post on well-known sites with a huge readership that mirrors my audience.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.? 

I do earn money. I offer e-mail and online courses and I am getting ready to launch my first book. I am in the process of establishing collaborations for offering products that fit into the happiness niche like specially blended teas, quote card decks and other others to help inspire.

Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts?

I follow Tiny Buddha, Seth Godin, Karen SalmansohnMind Body Green and Life Hacker pretty religiously.  Favorite podcasts that is a bit harder because I am all over the place. I really like some of the podcasts from NPR like This American Life and TED Radio Hour.

I totally agree with Kim that a self-hosted WordPress site giving you more credibility and saving you trouble down the line. It’s worth putting in the time and effort to learn it up front – you’ll save yourself a lot of headaches as your business outgrows drag and drop DIY services.

Check out Kim at www.kimyuhl.com and see how she can help you design a happier life. She’s also got some great freebies like “7 Habits for a Happier Life” and a series on forming lasting habits.

Be sure to follow Kim on Instagram http://instagram.com/kimyuhl.

There’s a Plug-in for That

Rebecca Portsmouth is a wedding photographer who uses WordPress to showcase her photos and promote her business. She believes in craftsmanship and professionalism in her photography business, and it’s clear that she approached building building her website with the same level of care.

Read on to learn more about Rebecca, her photography business, and learn which plugin she recommends for SEO.

When did you start your business and why?

I became a wedding photographer 14 years ago when I wanted to leave working for a US investment bank. I had always taken photographs, researched the market at the time and found there was a need for reportage or photojournalistic style wedding photography in a market which at the time was dominated by men, often quite a bit older than the couple, and medium format photography. I built my first website in Dreamweaver at a time when a website was a relative novelty.

What do you feel makes your target audience special?

Clients are often keen photographers themselves, who want flattering photographs of themselves that are natural. They all seem to be rather nice!

Why did you decide to build your WordPress yourself?  

Budget and wanting to play with the structure myself, to steer visitors on the most useful website journey for them.

What was the most difficult thing about creating your WordPress site?

Learning a new theme – Divi by Elegant Themes, as it was so difficult to the previous themes I had used. It uses drag and drop modules, similar to SquareSpace which I had been using for about a year, on a break from WordPress.

What was the easiest thing about it?

Knowing that with WordPress, there is a plug-in for virtually anything.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

Get your finances together first and if necessary, have a day job while your new business gets going. Knowing your bills are paid – whether through working for others or savings – can allow you to be at your most creative and maintain focus on your target market while you build your business and get to know your market.

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I would like to have had a better handle on marketing and cash-flow from the beginning.

How long did it take you to launch your site?

The latest WP site was built in about a week. Most of the pages have been rewritten and the site structure changed to guide people through the relevant sections of weddings, portraits, events or training.

How do you promote your site?

Most traffic comes from SEO, which I actively work on, especially through my blog – the Yoast SEO plug-in is a gem for this! It also comes from my newsletter and recommendations from colleagues. I also have a FaceBook page, use Twitter and do face-to-face networking too.

Do you have an email list, and if so, what is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

I have an email list, mostly made of past clients.  I don’t actively market it.

Who are your favourite bloggers or podcasts?

Artists Lisa Congdon and Geninne Zlatkis have wonderful blogs that they have used to build their followers and show their value. They are also clear about the boundaries of their online life: Lisa doesn’t have comments switched on her blog posts as that doesn’t work for her and from time to time Geninne goes on a social media holiday, as well as taking time out from her online life when moving house or other changes are taking place.

WordPress is fantastic for online businesses but it can also be a huge asset to brick and mortar and service-based businesses. You don’t need to be an online entrepreneur to get all the benefits of WordPress. If there’s something you need your website to do, you can pretty much guarantee there’s a plugin out there for it.

You can find Rebecca at www.rebeccalouise.com, check out some of her gorgeous wedding photos and see how she laid out her WordPress site to support her photography business.

The Product Comes Last

Jessi Frey and I are kindred spirits. I mean, I’ve never had a record deal or toured Europe with my band (I was president of my high school marching band) but we both want to be in control of our destiny. We want to own our time. We want to decide for ourselves how much money we make. We want to do something that matters and have freedom in the process.

Jessi launched The Great Gutsy “to explore the art of online business: how to start the right business for you, how to stick with it and how to make it flourish, so that you can own your work and life.”

Read on to learn more about Jessi, how she’s built businesses with WordPress and get some advice you can use right now in your own business.

When did you start The Great Gutsy and why? 

I started The Great Gutsy in the beginning of 2015, so early days still! I started my previous business back in 2012, which was a natural cosmetics business. I created handmade skincare products and sold them almost exclusively online.

After two years, I realised that a product-based business wasn’t right for me, but I loved the online part, so decided to create The Great Gutsy around all the things I’ve learned – and keep learning about online business.

What do you feel makes your target audience special?

The people that I feel I can help the best are creative, idea people who struggle to figure out what it is that they want to do or how to make their ideas happen. I’ve been there myself and have gone through that process many times.

I have also worked as a product developer at Nokia and Microsoft, and a big part of my job is to clearly define, what it is that should be done and then making sure it happens.

Why did you decide to build your first WordPress site yourself? 

I built my first WordPress site back in 2007. I had an idea of an affiliate-style e-commerce shop, but I didn’t want to spend the money on getting it made for me. I knew how to build simple HTML websites, but my skills were way too basic for the vision I had for my shop. WordPress seemed like the perfect solution, as I was able to build my shop myself and it supported all the features that I wanted.

What was the most difficult thing about creating your first WordPress site?

For someone new to WordPress, I think this biggest problem is overwhelm. There are so many things that you can do, that it takes a while to get your head around what everything is and how it all works.

What was the easiest thing about it?

What I love about WordPress is that once you get the hang of it, you can make WordPress do almost anything you want. I built the webstore for my cosmetics myself from the ground up.

As my business expanded, I was able to make the required changes myself, and all on a shoestring budget. For example, I had a significant amount of customers from Finland, so I made my site multi-lingual and multi-currency, so I was able to serve my customers in the language and currency that they preferred.

Had I had my webstore created by an agency, I probably would have had to spend ten times more money and time to make it work the way I wanted.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

This is my biggest tip: The product comes last. Most people start their business with an idea of what they are going to sell. They make that thing, launch it, and then wonder where they are going to find customers. That’s a really difficult route.

Instead start with the people that you want to serve, and once you’re clear on that, listen to them, and THEN create the product that they need from you.

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I’d do the above! I made exactly that mistake with my cosmetics, and wasted time and money on creating products that people didn’t want.

You don’t really know what they want until you get out there. At the same time I don’t regret anything. Doing is much better than planning, and each experience will make you better at what you do.

How long did it take you to launch your site?

I’ve created so many WordPress websites by now, that to get the basics done for a brand new site takes me just a couple of hours. It’s the content that takes time. My cosmetics site took me probably a few of weeks because I needed to get payment systems, product pictures and lots of copy in place.

The Great Gutsy took me a long time in terms of market research and really figuring out what I wanted it to focus on. However, once I was ready to go, I had everything in place – including my free 30-page ebook for anyone who wants to sign up – in about a week.

I’m also a self-confessed theme junkie! Total waste of time, but I just love trying new themes out and seeing my site in a new dress. Haha!

How do you promote your site?

I’ve been getting active on some forums and Facebook groups. Twitter is always good, too. I have also been guest posting, and am looking to do more collaborations with other bloggers. I love doing interviews! I have also experimented with Facebook ads and have been getting great results with a very modest budget.

For the cosmetics I created competitions with giveaways and had them featured in beauty blogs. I also gave away free samples for people who signed up to my email list. These converted to sales really well.

Do you have an email list, and if so, what is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

Growing an email list is my priority #1 in terms of marketing. To do that I do all the above. Giving away a really good quality free gift for a sign-up is key. Not many people do that for physical products, but it worked amazingly well for my cosmetics.

For The Great Gutsy, I wanted to write a really compelling guide, addressing one of the biggest pain points that I knew people had, not holding anything back.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.? 

I haven’t monetised The Great Gutsy yet, but from my previous experience I can tell this: I’ll never put advertising on my site, it’s just ugly and doesn’t really pay for the pain. I will probably be an affiliate to products that I love and want to recommend. Mostly I’ll be looking at consulting and creating my own digital products.

Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts?

I love the spunky style of Ash Ambirge from The Middle Finger Project. I am also an avid reader of Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich. My new girl crush is Kimra Luna, who is just insanely helpful. I follow Marie Forleo, Nathalie Lussier and Nathalie McNeil on Youtube as I really like video. My favourite podcast is Navid Moazzez’s Lifestyle Architect.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

To everyone wanting to start a business, I say go for it! It’s a constant learning experience and so much fun. Learn to do things yourself, and you’ll get things done quicker and easier. You can upgrade to fancier stuff later, once you’ve got your business up and running. Be the boss and own your work, your money and your time. That’s the mantra I founded The Great Gutsy on.

I’m putting Jessi on my list of favorite bloggers! You should definitely check out The Great Gutsy for super-actionable online business advice. Also, be sure to download her free e-book on how to find the right idea for your online business. You can find Jessi on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jessifrey and on Facebook at  http://facebook.com/thegreatgutsy.

Don’t Stress Over Numbers and Focus on People

I’m blown away every single day by the people I’m meeting and connecting with online, and Megan Johnson, aka #TipsyWriter, is no exception.

I found TipsyWriter.com via one of my tweets at one of my Twitter followers that was retweeted by her (which I consider to be solid proof that this Twitter thing totally works, btw).

Because I could be called Tipsy Web Designer depending on the day, I followed Megan on Twitter and immediately went to TipsyWriter.com.

Instantly I was sucked into reading all her blog posts about being authentic and successful and living life in general. Then I looked at the clock and was like, oh shit, I’m supposed to be working!

But every time I saw a new blog post from her on Twitter, I read it. One day, I clicked on a link to her blog and saw it had gone from beautiful to gorgeous! I knew immediately it was a new WordPress theme and wanted to find out more about Megan, her blog and her WordPress journey.

Read on to learn more about Megan, how she monetizes her blog and built a community of over 20,000 followers on Twitter.

When did you start your Tipsy Writer and why?

I started TipsyWriter almost two years ago (itll be two years next month!) totally on a whim. I was helping someone come up with a title for their own website and had the idea. You know how sometimes you just have those ideas that are too good to not follow? I guess TipsyWriter was one of those for me.

I set up the site, started writing, and have been involved ever since – and I couldnt be happier that I decided to just go with my gut and give it a shot!

What do you feel makes your audience/readers special?

When you have a blog, it’s like there’s this invisible network that you didn’t realize you were joining. Pretty soon you’re talking to bloggers about numbers, what your plans are for the future…basically comparing experiences.

Now, I could have told you that my audience is special and the best around, but what i’ve learned just from talking to other bloggers out there is that my readers are so much more involved, engaged, and all-around awesome. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. (YOU GUYS MAKE THIS HAPPEN – THANK YOU!)

Did anything surprise you about creating your website?

Honestly, Im kinda surprised that I really fell in love with it as much as I have. Sure, I have always enjoyed writing and getting to help other people, but I wasnt sure how much id really enjoy the whole web-community thing. Turns out, its one of the best decisions Ive ever made.

Its long hours sometimes, hard work on occasion, but that feeling of knowing that I get to help people every day through a community that I created – I cant tell you how rewarding that is. 

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own blog?

This is probably the one question that ALWAYS come up when I am interviewed and my answer will always be the same: DO. IT.

You have only a limited amount of time in your life and maybe even less than you might hope, so any time that youre not putting toward chasing those passions, creating, or making those crazy ideas a reality is going to waste.

You dont have to have a largely successful blog overnight, just put yourself out there. If youre worried about that being scary – good. Let that fear drive you. Itll always be scary on some level, but I promise you youll be glad you did. 

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

So about 9 months into TipsyWriters life I decided that I wanted to completely change the look of the site. (Fun fact – TipsyWriters look changed 3 times within that first year. I dont recommend that.)

I very clearly remember sitting in a coffee shop and thinking I want this site to be the girlies thing I can think of! So I did it. In a few hours I had the site looking entirely differentand noticeably sloppier.

Although (thankfully) this look didnt last too long on TipsyWriter, I learned a lot from it that can be taken in terms of blogging advice and advice in life. Whenever you are sitting there bored out of your mind wishing that something exciting would happen so that you wouldn’t be bored anymore, consider going for a walk or a drive or something simple…just don’t make drastic decisions that are much harder to undo than they were to do in the first place.

How long did it take you to launch your blog once you decided to do it? 

Unlike a lot of people who spent months planning, writing, building up hype, or whatever else, I pretty much had the idea one night and was writing on it by the next day.

I think because I hadnt ventured into the blogging world at that point, I didnt realize that that wasn’t necessarily the best way to go about doing things. But looking back, I don’t regret just jumping full speed into things. Things work out for a reason.

How did you promote your site when you first started out? Has anything changed between then and how?

When I first started trying to promote my site, I would spent lots of time Googling where the best places to submit articles were and things like that. Probably not surprisingly, I spent a lot more time researching for not a whole lot of gain.

At some point, I decided that I should spend less time focusing on how to get more traffic and more time focusing on how to build a community. Once I did that (and quit stressing over numbers and changed my focus to people) I got both things that I wanted. Now, my strength is in the community that has been built. All other numbers are secondary.

Do you have an email list, and if so, what is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

I totally “get” why people build an email list. But I’m also someone who gets so many emails every day that I rarely get a chance to read those emails from blogs I once frequented. Right now, yes I have a popup on my site asking for people’s emails. In the past it has been in the sidebar. Other times I’ve decided that I didn’t want to collect emails.

In other words, I go back and forth on how to go about collecting them. At the end of the day, I never want to pester my readers (either w/ emails themselves or asking for their email addresses) so it depends on what I’m doing with my site. Just because things look the same on the surface doesn’t mean a lot isn’t brewing underneath!

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.? 

I do earn money from my site. I have ads on my site, I accept sponsorships, etc. My one thing though is that I am extremely picky when it comes to these things. I turn down offers if I dont think theyre a good fit.

I hate doing it sometimes because I founded a marketing company myself I understand first hand how frustrating being told no can be. But on TipsyWriter the audience comes first over me making money from itbut that money is also what keeps things going. 

Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts?

As far as podcasts go, I love Jess LivelyThe Lively Show. She has some truly inspirational people on there and I find that they are especially easy to listen to while Im doing client work during the days.

Bloggers I jump around – Im a big bloglovin fan so I subscribe to tons of different blogs. I dont think I have a favorite blog though – they all have something to add and I think thats a beautiful thing. 

In addition to Tipsy Writer, Megan also founded a digital/social/content marketing agency called in.spekt.co that helps companies find their ideal customer via social media and connect with them – and stay connected.

You can find Megan at Tipsy Writer, in.spekt.co, and on Twitter at @tipsywriter

Go For It, But Don’t Go Broke For It.

Okay, before I even to introduce you to Michelle Bobrow of The Holistic Wallet – I have to tell you this. We were emailing back and forth and there’s this picture of her that made me think the following things, not necessarily in this order:

  • She looks just like my BFF from high school.
  • She must be really smart.
  • She probably has an witty sense of humor.
  • I bet she doesn’t take herself too seriously.
  • I love her bowtie.
  • I wish I had a better sense of style and shopped somewhere other than American Eagle like I have for the past 20 years.

Michelle has a totally different approach to personal finance, what matters in life, and how she went about building her WordPress website. Even though I’m absolutely terrible at math, I love financial planning and couldn’t wait to interview Michelle. Even if you hate financial planning you’ll love her blog – and she’ll trick you into thinking she’s writing about life and then by the end you’ll have learned something about finance and you didn’t even see it coming!

So read on to learn about how The Holistic Wallet came to be, Michelle’s experience with WordPress, and get some great nuggets of financial advice.

When did you start The Holistic Wallet, and why did you create it?

The Holistic Wallet started as a local passion project a couple years ago, but I finally launched it as a virtual business late in 2014 after I decided that I wanted to revolutionize the financial industry to focus on financial “health” rather than financial “wealth”.

I love numbers and planning and logic – that’s my jam! – but I set out to provide financial planning with a more holistic approach that incorporates not just preparedness and efficiency, but also happiness and wellness.

It really just started with my own personal dissatisfaction with the personal finance industry and its emphasis on logic rather than applying our right-brain/creative energy to get a little more conscious and intentional with our money, so we could do the shit we really cared about in the near future – not just when we’re old and saggy and retired!

What do you feel makes your audience/readers special?

My audience isn’t about that cookie-cutter, status quo, American Dream lifestyle. They’re just really freakin’ passionate about living impactful lives and making the world a better place. These are the revolutionaries, the game-changers!

Aaand they’re probably turned off by the current state of mainstream finance – which is cool because I am too! But we all realize that it’s more effective to get through the system to beat it than around it.

Did you build your WordPress site yourself? What was that experience like?

I’ve always been somewhat curious about HTML and CSS and coding or whatnot, so when I needed my own website, it seemed like a great two-birds-one-stone opportunity to finally learn a skill I wanted to have but also get a website out of the ordeal.

However, it also takes a lot of time to set up and launch a virtual business and I didn’t have as much time and energy to put into my grand dreams of designing my own professional website.

I definitely learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes detail of a website, but I also learned more about my limitations as well. I eventually hired out some help so I could get up and running sooner.

Has anything surprised you about creating a website?

Remember when the iPhone first came out and the tagline was “There’s an app for that!” Well, PLUG-INS. There is a plug-in for everything!

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I wasted a lot of money testing and trying out new themes before I either knew how to customize them or that they couldn’t be customized.

And being a personal finance strategist, wasting money isn’t something I get over easily. It was a good learning experience to DIY, but yeah, every so often I think about all these themes I own and what I could do with them (blogs for days!).

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

I always say go for it, but don’t go broke for it. Plan ahead and save towards your entrepreneurial visions, but tap into that intuition and know your limitations before you take on too much. And stop buying into those notions that you have to go “balls to the wall” to be successful! It doesn’t hurt to diversify your income while you get up and running.

How fast did your audience grow?

Very, very slowly. As in, there were times when I would get 6 subscribers in a day and think I was a rockstar. Most of the business coaches and fellow solopreneurs I network with are rather surprised with how small of an audience I had in the beginning. But we all focus on being “authentic” and I really can’t ask for a more authentic and interactive audience.

Is this your only job? Did you launch your business while working another job?

I still have a foot in corporate. Sometimes I find that it limits my creative potential, but I’m not really rushing to leave either. I’m not saying all corporate life is wonderful, but when you find a good company that doesn’t push back on your quirkiness, take your paycheck as an investment into your bigger picture plans.

Do you have an email list? If so, did you start it when you launched?

Yes! And I send out weekly newsletters with blog posts and a behind-the-scenes briefing into my own financial life. I started my email list while I was launching with a simple Coming Soon page and Mailchimp and I find it’s a great way to interact with my audience and keep my material relevant and useful.

How do you promote your site?

I’m so bad at promoting my site! I’ve found that it helps to just focus on promoting my material, because when I’m talking personal finance, I don’t even feel like I’m promoting anything. I’m not saying promotion is bad – that’s how you get your material out to people! I just find it hard to be like “Look, I have stuff I want you to check out!” and easier to be like “Come to my webinar on credit card hacks!” And maaaybe I’ll get into Facebook ads soon to reach more people. But don’t underestimate the power of word-of-mouth once you establish credibility because that’s helped me a lot too!

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Did you intend to earn from it when you launched?

I’m established as The Holistic Wallet, Inc. and I totally launched this to be a for-profit business. And yeah, that “Inc.” – I’m corporate! Haha. But those profits come from clients paying for coaching and strategy sessions and it’s my favorite job ever! I literally start dancing every time I finalize a client’s plan and press Send.

Who are your favorite bloggers right now?

YesYesMarsha.com is my saving grace because I’m such an introvert but I know that networking and being social is critical to the success of my business. NathalieLussier.com offers a really inviting approach to setting up and maintaining virtual business.

And I suppose I’m obsessed with food blogging in general. I always wanted to be one. Actually, I really just like looking at pictures of food for inspiration and crafting my own recipes. My own food blog wouldn’t have decent photography though, so I suppose I’ll stick with personal finance.

Is there anything else you want us to know about you?

If I could talk personal finance all day, everyday, I would! But listening to me talk about money, mindsets and management isn’t going to have enough impact until you roll up your sleeves and get down with your own finances.  No one is too poor or too rich to start getting intentional about their money! I offer a 7-Day Get Fiscally Intentional challenge to help people zone in on their holistic goals and purpose which helps sustain that pursuit of financial health.

I think it’s safe to say that images speak a thousand words. Michelle nailed it with her image and branding, and I love that she’s not worried about promotion but about being passionate about her content!

To learn more about Michelle and how she can help you with personal finance, find her in all these places and take her 7-Day Get Fiscally Intentional challenge!





Have a Bigger Dream for Yourself and Go After It

Rochelle Moulton is a woman who knows how to reinvent herself – and can show you how to invent yourself. A bold business coach and branding expert, Rochelle reveals how to be unforgettable.

Her site is built on WordPress and is a great example of the formula for the perfect homepage layout – bold header image that screams, “This is my brand!” following by an eye-catching email opt-in and rounded out with more information about her products. Gorgeous!!

So read on to learn more about Rochelle, her WordPress site – and find out how to be unforgettable!

When did you start your business, and why did you create it?

I started this business in 2007 (I started my first company in 1994). Initially I created it as a way to sell my services to consulting firms, but I quickly moved into the personal branding space for those building businesses on and off-line—consultants, financial advisors, coaches, speakers, authors.

What do you feel makes your audience/readers special?

My readers are pretty savvy people. They tend to run their own business or have an entrepreneurial streak and are looking for ways to go out on their own. One thing they all have in common? They have a bigger dream for themselves and are motivated to go after it.

Has anything surprised you about starting a website?

Not so much when I started it, but the amount of headspace required to maintain a relevant website and growing email list continually amazes me.

Did you do your site yourself website? Do you use WordPress?

Good heavens no! My mantra is to hire out anything I can’t do well myself or don’t want to. My site is in WordPress—it’s a fabulous content management system which is perfect for my business model.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

Get clear on what you have to offer and your ideal client or customer base. Think carving out a niche for yourself vs being a generalist. Do your homework and make sure you have six months where you don’t HAVE to have revenue coming in and can still cover your business and personal expenses. I’ve seen people make really bad strategic decisions just to make rent.

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I would have moved my business to its current reliance on digital waaaay faster. I wasted a lot of time running around to in-person meetings and referrals when my best client base was national and global.

How fast did your audience grow? How many visitors/subscribers do you have?

My audience grew very organically. I started with a few hundred people who were already in my network and when none of them unsubscribed, I figured maybe I could build an audience. The first years were slow going, but I eventually broke through. My core web audience is over 15,000 people currently and growing at double digits.

Is this your only job? Did you launch your business while working another job?

This has always had my 100% business focus. I’ve started each of my companies—this is my third—when that’s all I was doing professionally. I prefer to put everything I have into it.

Do you have an email list? If so, did you start it when you launched?

I do have a list—a very robust one now—but I didn’t start it right away. I waited till I started blogging, which was over two years in. I wouldn’t make the mistake of waiting again!

How do you promote your site?

My promotion largely consists of content marketing—creating and distributing thoughtful content that I believe will resonate with my ideal clients and buyers. The key is distribution—and I’m on a handful of social media sites where I pinpoint my audience with precision. In fact, I get 100% of my non-referral business via social media. I do an interview or two a month with various complementary bloggers and that’s been a great source of referrals and readers. I also contribute content to several sites with terrific audiences for my message—iris.xyz for example has a core audience of financial advisors who are a perfect fit for me.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.? Did you intend to earn from it when you launched?

I just introduced my first product last September and am currently working on a new class I’ll be launching in March. So yes, I’m earning money just from the site alone. I do NOT do ads—I just don’t believe in them for my brand and I have not done any outbound affiliate marketing for the same reason.

Who are your favorite bloggers right now? 

I am a die-hard Seth Godin fan and I gobble up most everything Dan Pink has to offer. Marie Forleo is on fire and I just love Rohit Bhargava on marketing, Alexandra Greenawalt on personal style and Laura Belgray on pretty much anything she wants to write about. Anyone who writes (even part-time) for a living MUST read Steven Pressfield’s “War of Art” (I keep a digital and hard copy handy) and subscribe to his blog.

Wow – so much great information!! I can’t wait for you to get to the point in your business where it makes more sense for you to hire out your WordPress site! Until then, learn how to do it with my free challenge, and then you’ll know exactly what you’re paying someone to do later on!

You can follow Rochelle on Twitter @consultingchick and check out her website at www.rochellemoulton.com where you can get her Big Bold Bodacious Ideas Worksheet when you subscribe to her newsletter!


Say a Prayer, Hit Publish

WP BFFs – I am SO excited to introduce you to my next Woman to Watch, Christine Boudreau of FriscoLifeCoach.com!

Christine and I *met* in Nathalie Lussier’s 30 Day List Building Challenge Facebook group and we instantly connected, bonding over each other’s story and our mutual drive to help women find confidence to get what they want out of life.

Christine is an amazing and dedicated coach. She has a knack for bringing clarity and action to those random ideas that are tumbling around in your mind. And I absolutely love her slight southern accent 🙂

As a former tech exec, Christine knows how complicated and expensive websites used to be and recognizes how WordPress is changing the game by making it cheap and easy enough that you can afford to not be perfect.

Read on to learn more about Christine, why “tweakness” is her weakness – and get some bonus biz coaching you won’t want to miss!

When did you start your business, and why did you create it?

I launched FriscoLifeCoach.com in 2013 because I felt called to serve women who struggle with finding and defining themselves.  Because I lived through my own awakening.  I ditched a successful yet unfulfilling corporate career to pursue my life purpose.

My life purpose is to help women find their life purpose, resolve + evolve past emotional scars, and live the life they were meant to live. 

It’s about allowing fear and vulnerability to break you open to find juicy nuggets of truth and authenticity.  And then living that truth with the white-hot intensity of 1,000 suns.

What do you feel makes your audience/readers special?

Their honesty, passion, and courage to face their fears and overcome obstacles to achieve their highest potential. 

These women work tirelessly at corporate jobs sacrificing their souls.  They want out of the rat race and want someone to show them the way. 

Some are career-abandoning moms who want to use their brains to create and add value beyond the scope of their families. 

These women all have one thing in common:  They know they are capable of much more than they are currently doing.  They feel the internal desire to propel themselves into more meaningful work.  They need a nudge – sometimes a gentle push and shove! – to get them there.

Has anything surprised you about creating a website?

Yes!  So many exciting changes occurred in web development since I started in this space nearly two decades ago!

I’m a former tech executive, and I led teams of engineers and designers who built websites for some of the largest companies in the world.  I started managing web development in the late 1990s pre-Google, pre-iPhones, pre-social media, pre-high-speed anything. 

The interwebs was a completely different place back then.  Off-the-shelf code didn’t exist for some of the common website functions like shopping carts, credit card processing, etc.  We literally led from the cutting edge of technology and created the wheel.  And it cost a ridiculous amount of time and money to do it!

However, today, I’m shocked at how simple and affordable it is to create a website with web-in-a-box products like WordPress.  If you can build a PowerPoint presentation or a Word document, you can literally construct a website in a matter of minutes. 

And it’s free!  Thanks to open source software.  In the 1990s, proprietary software led the pack.  Companies never released their code.  Fast-forward to today, and the benefits of open source software ooze from many applications.  It’s incredible that you can assemble a website today for practically free – using a great open source content management system (CMS) like WordPress plus plugins, extensions, and add-ons.

How long did it take you to create your WordPress site?

Minutes.  Ok, maybe an hour – tops. 

When I say that, I mean the initial set-up, i.e., buying domain name (I used GoDaddy.com), buying hosting (I used BlueHost.com), porting domain name to host, installing WordPress, buying/installing a theme (I used StudioPress), and setting up an email subscription service (I used MailChimp). 

Shopping for and deciding on a theme took the longest. 

Well, that’s a lie. 

Deciding on a domain name took the longest – for sure.  Days and days of brainstorming and researching.  (But I’m a sucker for analysis and tend to get stuck there too often!)  In the end, I don’t love my domain name, but you just gotta pick something and go with it, or you’ll never launch.

As Apple Fellow Guy Kawasaki writes in The Art of the Start, “The hardest thing about getting started is getting started…. Remember:  No one ever achieved success by planning for gold.  You should always be selling – not strategizing about selling.  Don’t test, test, test – that’s a game for big companies.  Don’t worry about being embarrassed.  Don’t wait to develop the perfect product or service.  Good enough is good enough.  There will be plenty of time for refinement later.  It’s now how great you start, but how great you end up.” 

Start with a domain name.  You might have to get creative.  Lots of domain names are taken.  Consider search engine optimization (SEO) and your client’s perspective.  What does your target market Google when they are searching for your product or service?  What are the words they use?  Try to put those words in the domain name.  Use Google AdWords and Keyword Planner to help brainstorm ideas.

If you can’t decide on one name, consider buying your top choices.  For example, I also purchased ChristineBoudreau.com (I recommend everyone buy their name), ChristineLifeCoach.com, and a few others I liked.  You can always point other domains name to your primary.  For example, ChristineBoudreau.com and ChristineLifeCoach.com point to FriscoLifeCoach.com.

Having said all that…  Tweaking and refining the site – that took some time.  Many weeks.  Partly because websites constantly evolve.  You never “complete” your website.  You always make changes and modifications.  If not, your site looks stale and static. 

But mostly it took weeks and weeks because I like to tweak.  Tweakness is my weakness!  😉  I’m a perfectionist.  I struggle with “good enough.”  So… do as I say and not as I do!

Did you hire a graphic designer or did you create your own graphics?

I’ve never paid anyone to create graphics.  And maybe it shows!  😉  For this iteration of my website, I’ve managed to get by on my own DIY skills.  I’m a control freak by nature and enjoy expressing my creativity.  So I create most of my graphics using free tools like Picmonkey.com. 

However, at some point, I will hire a designer for things like a logo and business cards, I will most likely turn to crowd-sourcing sites like 99designs.com for resources.  If I need a specific task completed (versus needing multiple creative solutions), I’ll use elance.com or odesk.com

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

Do it, and do it now.  When you dissect the reasons folks give for delaying the start of their business, you find fear.  Don’t let the fear stop you. 

On the flip side, don’t get into this industry for the money and expecting to be a millionaire over-night.  It takes work to be successful.  Which is obviously true with anything. 

When you are an entrepreneur – especially when you’re a soloentrepreneur – all the work is your responsibility.  Everything rests on your shoulders.  If you didn’t write a blog post today, there is no one to blame but you.  You cannot find enough hours in the day to get it all done.  The to-do list overwhelms even the most seasoned time manager.  But the work is beyond rewarding.

My point is – understand your motivation for starting an online business.  If it includes your gifts, passions, and values, then don’t let the fear stop you.  Because as famed executive coach Richard Leider says, your purpose in life (or what career you should pursue) is equal to your gifts, plus your passion, plus your values.  Or more simply put:

G + P + V = C

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

Start sooner.  Duct tape my ego, lock it in the trunk, and let a higher power drive.  Fear paralyzed me for a long while.  Fear is from the ego.  Ego has never once given you good advice.

Ironically, I know myself very well.  I know my strengths and weaknesses.  I usually overcome my analysis/paralysis mode.  I typically know how to outsmart my Negative Nancy voice. 

Except this time. 

This new business venture felt more personal.  I felt more vulnerable than ever before. 

I thought, what if my former colleagues laugh at me and my mission?  Creating robust, complex computer systems for Fortune 500 companies is a far cry from self-help gurus and life purpose junkies.  What if I fail?  What if I burn a bridge and can’t go back to the (false sense of) security of corporate America?

My mantra:  Say a prayer.  Hit publish.

How fast did your audience grow? How many visitors/subscribers do you have?

Initially, my audience grew very slowly.  Partly because I flew under the radar for many, many months while I tweaked and refined the site.  I hung out with my old friends Analysis Paralysis and Not Good Enough far too long. 

But also because businesses don’t have hockey stick performance.  Meaning that while projections in business plans tend to look like this:Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 10.33.42 AM

The reality is business performance looks more like this:

Screen Shot 2015-01-30 at 10.33.54 AM

In fact, I haven’t conducted an official hard launch or grand opening yet.  I’ve quietly operated in the background and yet have gained a steady following. 

Is this your only job? Did you launch your business while working another job?

Yes, this is my only job.  I quit my day job to launch this business.  The reason is that I purposely made financial choices early in my career that today allow me to focus solely on running my business today.

And I got lucky. 

I was poor growing up so hoarding money comes natural to me.

In other words, I’ve always lived below my means.  When I got the big paycheck in corporate America, I never up-sized to the big house or fancy car.  I stashed the cash so I would have a F**k You Fund. 

Meaning, I dreamt of telling the boss:  F YOU!  I dreamt of working for myself.  I knew corporate America wasn’t forever for me. 

Yes, I climbed the ladder, but I was a horrible employee.  I was disruptive, argumentative, and forceful.  I was nearly fired countless times.  And I consider those some of my biggest accomplishments. 

Almost being fired proved to me that:  (1) I was in the wrong place, and (2) I needed to be my own boss.

But that’s me. 

Maybe that’s not how you do it.  The point is to do it.  You have to find your way. 

Maybe you forgo the TV and web surfing at night to work on your blog.  Maybe, like Shannon smartly suggests, you start on your lunch hour.  Maybe you take a few vacation days, hunker down, and get started.

Just do it.

Do you have an email list? If so, did you start it when you launched?

I started my email list when I launched the site, and I manage it via MailChimp.  Email subscribers are the largest source of potential income for an online business.  So set up your email subscription service immediately.  And set it up to scale and grow.  Start your business expecting to be huge.  Build your site to handle that growth.

How do you promote your site?

Rather quietly (and free!) via email campaigns, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn primarily), and forums.  I’ve tried Pinterest and Instagram, but I find my audience is not currently active on those platforms.  You have to go where your audience is.  Where do they hang out online?  Go there and join the conversation.

The only service I pay to advertise my business is PsychologyToday.com.  It has been a steady source of referrals.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.? Did you intend to earn from it when you launched?

My business plan defines services and products as primary sources of revenue.  Affiliate marketing and ads are secondary and tertiary sources of revenue.  My intention is to grow my business through the sale of products and services.  I’ve never focused on ads or affiliate marketing.  There’s nothing wrong with focusing on those things; it’s just not my business model.

Who are your favorite bloggers right now?

James Altucher of JamesAltucher.com 

Business and life advice.  He tells his story in a vulnerable way.  And what a story!  He’s made and lost millions.  You learn from him.  It’s great.

Nathalie Lussier of NathalieLussier.com

Lussier created NaturalFoodsWitch.com with wild success.  She now teaches online wantrepreneurs how to follow in her footsteps.

Melissa Culbertson of BlogClarity.com

Great advice on blog/web design and marketing.  Culbertson is the author of Blog Design for Dummies, which I highly recommend. My copy of her book has dog-eared pages, highlights, sticky notes, and the like plastered all through it.  It literally sits on my desk within arms reach of me all day.  I refer to it so much that it never makes its way back to the bookshelf.  Her in-the-trenches perspective and writing style feels like a favorite colleague whom you sit around with brainstorming ideas.

Of course, Shannon Mattern of wp-bff.com. ☺  I’m not just saying that because I’m a guest blogger.  I genuinely believe Shannon simplifies the mystique of building a WordPress website. I appreciate her cut-to-the-chase style.  Perfect for the WP newbie or technophobe.

Elegant Themes Blog at ElegantThemes.com

Besides offering elegant, premium WordPress themes, ElegantThemes.com also offers a blog with straightforward WordPress advice.  Plus social media, email subscription, and web design tips and tricks.

Seth Godin at sethgodin.com

Marketing God, Guru, and Genius.  Author of eighteen international bestsellers.  A staple of any business person.  Heck, a staple of any person.  Buy all of his books.  Read them twice.  Then read them again.

Brian Clark at CopyBlogger.com

If content is king, then Brian Clark is a content God.  He’s a serial entrepreneur who founded StudioPress (awesome WP themes).  CopyBlogger teaches you how to create quality copy/content.  Brian’s been featured in some of Seth Godin’s books.  Enough said.

See!! I told you Christine’s awesome!! You need to go to her site RIGHT NOW and check out how you can work with her.

Be Authentic & Strategic

Kamila Gornia is a marketing and mindset business coach who empowers entrepreneurs to create a large, authentic online presence. Kamila practices holistic business coaching and helps you “re-discover who you are, who you serve, and how – so you can finally connect your passion with your message in the world.”

Kamila is as experienced in building websites as she is in connecting solopreneurs with their voice, but WordPress allowed her to spend less time on her website and more time on building her business.

Read on to find out more about what Kamila does with WordPress and her business.

When did you start your business, and why did you create it?

My newest business, as a digital marketing strategist & biz coach, is very new – I started it in April 2014, however I’ve had other businesses as well all of which I grew through WordPress.

My wellness blog I started in 2012 that grew into a legit business in the last 2 years, all built on WordPress. My first business, however, was a freelance photography business and it’s where I first became exposed to WordPress and I was amazed at the versatility of the themes available – that I started in 2009.

What do you feel makes your audience/readers special?

My audience ROCKS because they are all ambitious women who don’t mess around and are committed and ready to free their life, make their business rock online through marketing strategies that work, authentically + strategically.

Plus, they’re in it because they love what they do, not because they have to be. And that’s a big one for me – I only work with people who feel passionately about their work.

Has anything surprised you about creating a website?

How easy it came to me. My very first website I actually created back when I was 12 years old and it was all in HTML. I pick things up fast and I found a template that I worked off of and built that site (and the community around it) quite quickly.

I don’t remember how I came across WordPress when I was launching my photography site but when I did it was like, “What? I don’t actually have to create stuff from scratch? I don’t actually HAVE to know all these things about HTML?” It rocked my world, haha.

How long did it take you to create your WordPress site?

Not very long honestly. The longest part was finding the theme I liked that was free (my first WordPress site, I wasn’t making much money with photography yet). Now my most recent website for my marketing business is a bit more complex and has more stuff in it, including a member’s area, blog, and more… but it still didn’t take me a whole lot of time.

Did you hire a graphic designer or did you create your own graphics?

For my business I used a designer to help me create my branding, my logo and my header image. I know photography but graphic design is a whole different animal that I’d rather leave to the pros. I can tweak things but not make them from scratch.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

JUST DO IT. It’s easier than you think. All you really need is the will, the commitment, and the drive to keep it going and make it happen.

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

Nothing. Everything I’ve done has taught me something about myself. I would say I wish I started treating my wellness blog as a business sooner but I had no idea it would turn into a business so I guess I couldn’t have predicted that one so much.

How fast did your audience grow? How many visitors/subscribers do you have?

A lady doesn’t tell but I grew my audiences fast, simply because it’s what I specialize in my business. A recent campaign I did grew my list by 2,178 new subscribers if that gives you any idea of a ballpark.

Is this your only job? Did you launch your business while working another job?

I like to have a lot going on. Aside from these two businesses, marketing one being the one I am mostly passionate about and focused on growing now, I also work as a social media & email marketing lead in a boutique digital marketing agency in Chicago, where we work with emerging e-commerce brands.

It’s cool because my business allows me to work with more service-based businesses, people who want to be the FACE of their company, whereas my agency works with e-commerce product-based businesses. I get to experiment and see how different strategies apply and work for each of these different types of businesses.

Do you have an email list? If so, did you start it when you launched?

Of course. Growing a list is the most important thing you can do. It’s how you can sell and streamline your marketing so you can grow.

How do you promote your site?

Mostly social media. I use paid social ads when I do specific campaigns but honestly, a little bit of connecting here and there, plus having a blog to provide value in seems to do the trick for me.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Did you intend to earn from it when you launched?

Yes, I have services and products I provide for my clients around digital marketing and online business development. As for my wellness site, it’s a myriad of sponsored posts and ads whilst working with brands, affiliate offers, and others.

Who are your favorite bloggers right now? 

Derek Halpern from Social Triggers rocks.

You can find out more about Kamila and check out her awesome WordPress site at www.kamilagornia.com. Be sure to subscribe to her email list to get the inside scoop on how to create a bigger online presence for your business.

If You’re Not Failing You’re Not Trying Hard Enough

Even though Holly Hanna of The Work at Home Woman didn’t build her WordPress site herself, she did build a work-at-home empire, so there’s no way I’m leaving her out of the Women to Watch series! Holly has built a WordPress site that gets 170,000 visitors monthly by expertly and consistently crafting quality content tailored to her niche – and WordPress has been invaluable to those efforts.

When did you start your business, and why did you create it?

I officially launched my business in March of 2009. After the birth of my daughter, I quit my full-time nursing gig and became a full-time stay at home mom. But after 9 months of play-dates, mommy mush brain, and a dwindling bank account — I decided to look for ways to make extra money.

I knew that I wanted to be at home with my daughter, but had no clue what jobs would let me do that. So I started my search. Unfortunately, I encountered more scams than legit opportunities at the time. I knew that other women were working from home — I just had to figure to how to do it for myself.

This is when I had my light bulb moment for my blog, The Work at Home Woman. I created the website so that other women could easily find work at home jobs, business ideas, and legit information.

What do you feel makes your audience/readers special?

What makes TWAHW’s audience so special is the fact that these women want more. They’re standing up to societal norms and demanding flexibility and careers that place value on families first — and that is very powerful.

Has anything surprised you about starting a website?

It is more fun than I could have ever imagined. I absolutely love what I do and I never dread Monday mornings. Every day is a little different and you never know what opportunities are going to land in your inbox.

Did you do your site yourself website? Do you use WordPress?

Yes, I use WordPress. My web programmer helped me with my decision when I started out. I was totally clueless, luckily she lead me in the right direction. I hired a graphic designer to create a custom theme for me. She also uploaded WordPress to my host and did all of the technical stuff that I had no idea how to do. 

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

Don’t let fear hold you back and don’t settle for just okay. Before I started working from home, I was constantly searching for a job that made me happy. I’d daydream about launching my own business, but never thought it was a realistic goal, plus I had no idea what kind of business I’d be able to start. It wasn’t until I had my daughter and with the support of my spouse, that I felt brave enough to try out an idea. I’ve never been happier in my life.

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

Honestly, I wouldn’t change a thing. Any mistakes I’ve made along the way have helped me learn and grow as an entrepreneur. As they say, “If you’re not failing you’re not trying hard enough”.

How fast did your audience grow? How many visitors/subscribers do you have?

My site did well from the beginning; or perhaps I should say it met my goals and criteria for success. I only wanted to work part-time when I first started out, because my daughter was still at home with me. But once she started school full-time, I was able to focus more time on the site and it has continued to grow steadily. I currently get about 170,000 visitors a month and my long-term goal is a million visitors a month.

Is this your only job? Did you launch your business while working another job?

Besides publishing The Work at Home Woman, I also work part time from home as a Social Media Manager for AWAI. I’ve been working with them since December 2007 and what I do for them, complements what I do on my site.

Do you have an email list? If so, did you start it when you launched?

Yes, I do have an email list. I started it when I launched the site back in 2009. However, I didn’t have good opt in placement and I didn’t send it out consistently. Again, all part of the learning process.

How do you promote your site?

The majority of my traffic comes from Google. I try and focus on creating the best content possible; content that my readers really want. I also use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Google Plus to send traffic to my site. As well as email marketing, PR opportunities, and guest blogging. It takes a lot of consistent work to build your traffic.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.? Did you intend to earn from it when you launched?

Yes, my blog is monetized. I knew from the very start that I wanted to make money from my blog, so I learned everything I could about monetization and getting traffic. I currently monetize with direct ad sales, affiliate marketing, ad networks, as well as corporate sponsorships.

Who are your favorite bloggers right now? 

There are so many that I visit on a daily basis … but I always seems to find great information on these.

Holly didn’t let not having a skill or not knowing how to do something hold her back. She knew what she wanted, dug in and learned, and created a successful WordPress site in the process. You can find Holly and get some ideas for your own business at:

Website: http://www.theworkathomewoman.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheWorkatHomeWoman

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Holly_Hanna

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/hollyrhanna/

Put Your Doubts Aside and Go For It!

Joy Phillips is a certified archetypal consultant who created her own WordPress site for her coaching business “Once Upon an Archetype“.  A self-described perfectionist, it took her a few months to get the content and graphics exactly how she wanted it – and by creating her own website and having the knowledge to make changes, she also had the FREEDOM to make changes without having to fork over a ton of cash. Read more about Joy’s business and journey below.

Put Aside Your Doubts and Go For It

When did you start your business, and why did you create it?

I started my business in March, 2014 after completing my training and a rigorous certification process with Caroline Myss’ CMED Institute to become one of her certified archetypal consultants.

I created Once Upon an Archetype to help courageous women who are struggling to lose weight and dealing with chronic pain, fatigue, invisible illness, and stress identify their core archetypes (patterns of behavior), and I then teach them how their archetypes contribute to the chaos they’re experiencing.  This is my passion and my life’s purpose because I am so much like my clients.  I share their struggles, so I totally “get it”!  As a matter of fact, we share many of the same archetypes.

What do you feel makes your audience/readers special?

They fight a courageous battle every single day while maintaining a positive attitude and remaining proactive – never giving up.

Has anything surprised you about creating a website?

The time it took to finish it LOL!! I love how WordPress tracks your edits. I think I’m up to nearly 2,000 edits on my welcome page right now.  Yes, that’s the Perfectionist archetype in action!

But seriously, I really enjoyed creating my site (I have the Artist archetype too, so being creative is a part of who I am). It’s so ME – the colors, the graphics, the content.  And it attracts perfect clients!

How long did it take you to create your WordPress site?

I actually started working on my website after my training was complete, but before I was finished with my certification.  It took about 3 months before I felt good about releasing it for the public to view. But even after I released it, I still made quite a few changes in content and graphics.

Did you hire a graphic designer or did you create your own graphics?

I created my own graphics using Photoshop. Creating the graphics was probably the most fun for me!  I also love to write, but writing the content for my website took much longer than creating the graphics.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

Put your doubts aside and GO FOR IT!  You wouldn’t have the dream in your heart if you weren’t born with the talent to make the dream come true. Believe in yourself!

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I would have put aside my perfectionism (and my fear of rejection) and put myself out there in a bigger way much sooner than I did.

How fast did your audience grow? How many visitors/subscribers do you have?

It took a few months before my audience started to grow.  I am currently on my 3rd opt-in and I think I’ve hit it right this time because I’m getting quite a few sign ups on a daily basis now.  It seems like it took forever, but I’m getting visitors in the thousands now per month. I know that’s nothing compared to a lot of online entrepreneurs, but I see increases each and every month in Google Analytics, so I’m pleased.

I’m also the type who believes that the Universe will bring me the right clients in the perfect timing, so I’m going with the flow.  😉

Is this your only job? Did you launch your business while working another job?

No, I was not working another job when I created my website. As a matter of fact, like many of my clients, I’ve been on a medical disability for many years.

Do you have an email list? If so, did you start it when you launched?

Yes, I created my first opt-in and signed up with Mailchimp before launching my website, so that I could start building a mailing list immediately.  Everything was in place and ready to go the day I took my website off of “maintenance mode”.  What a relief that day was!  😉

How do you promote your site?

Thus far, I use social media to promote my site – mainly Facebook.  And, of course – word of mouth.  My clients have been very kind in sharing my services with their friends and family.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.? Did you intend to earn from it when you launched?

I earn money from my private coaching programs and self-study programs/workbooks that I created to help women who prefer to save a few bucks and go it alone.  I still make myself available via email to offer as much support as I can to my self-study clients.

I’m also launching an online “healing” retreat in the next couple of weeks, which will be a monthly subscription-based service set up in an eCourse format where clients will have my daily support in discussions and reflective journaling exercises designed to help them “dialogue” with their 12 core archetypes.

Who are your favorite bloggers right now? 

Truth be told, I have not had a lot of time over the past few months to keep up with blogs, so I’ve lost contact with some of them.  But, I definitely gravitate towards the spiritual, metaphysical blogs.  My all-time favorite (and one that I read no matter how busy I am) is, “Leap Like a Frog” by Cythina Ortiz.  I love her writing style and the topics she chooses to write about.

I had never heard of archetypes and find this super-interesting! The thing that resonates with me most from Joy’s interview – and I hear this from almost every single entrepreneur that I’ve ever talked to – is to put aside your fears and just get started.

You have absolutely nothing to lose. The 5 Day Website Challenge is free. Any products I recommend in the challenge have money-back guarantees. And if you have a passion that can help other people as much as Joy’s does, why not just do it already? Maybe it’s time to meet your archetypes 🙂

Becoming Someone’s Habit

Denetra Hampton knows how powerful technology is to connect people of like interests.

Not only is she the CEO of an online nursing education company (and a digital magazine – and a nursing organization) she has expertly harnessed the power of the LinkedIn group to bring together over 10,000 entrepreneur nurses and become their habit!

LinkedIn groups can be extremely valuable to connecting with others in you niche and driving traffic to your newly created WordPress site.

Read on to learn more about Denetra and how she built her LinkedIn group and made it a habit among her top contributors.

Become Someone's Habit

1) When did you start Entrepreneur Nurse, and why did you create it?

I started this group back in 2011.  It was a spinoff of what was happening in my own personal life.  I had just retired from the U.S. Navy and started a small business.  I thought it would be a platform that would help ME build a robust knowledge base.

2) What do you feel makes your community special?

This group is a multi-discipline community.  Which is awesome.  This diversity is key to any entrepreneur, but especially for those just starting out.

3) If you could magically give all of your community members one thing in this world, what would it be, and why?

PASSION!… I have learned that most people are in business to make money, but not everyone is there because they have PASSION for what they do while they are making money.  This is important, because, when times get tough, and they will. It is the passion that will sustain you when no money is coming in.

4) If you could ask your group members one thing and get an answer from all of them, what would that question be?

Why is this group a HABIT for you. I ask that because it is important that as entrepreneurs, we become someone’s HABIT.  We must create something that keeps people coming back. I would want to know what that is for them and this group.

5) Who are your power-users or most active members? What do you like most about them?

I would not say a particular person, but definitely a particular profession. NURSES, and Healthcare professionals.  We all have that commonality and the subject matter is massive.

6) What are some of the hot topics that seem to always be discussed within the group?

1. Leadership is the weapon of choice here.  It is the sword that I use to get right to the heart of things.  And everyone has experienced it in some form or fashion.  Not to mention it is a trending repair right now in all disciplines. 

2. Technology would be high on the list.  It has affected everyone in the world, especially in business.  If you are not relevant in technology, you can’t lead or be an entrepreneur.

7) For someone new to this community, how do they get the most out of it?

Find someone of interest to follow. The LinkedIn group shows who the top contributors are and these folk are usually the most engaging. A great start.

8) Has anything surprised you about owning a forum about entrepreneurship?

Yes.  I have totally been surprised by the number of people with all of these amazing projects and ventures.  When you have this type of creativity in one place, the knowledge in unlimited.  So when I set out to create a platform that I could learn from, I actually did.

9) What one piece of advice would you give to a nurse that is thinking about starting their own business?

FOLLOW YOUR OWN MUSE!  Just because another nurse is doing something, does not mean that it is for you.  Create your own path, give others something to admire.

Hopefully Denetra has inspired you to think about creating your own LinkedIn group in your niche! You can cross-post content from your website and reach a whole new set of people you wouldn’t be able to find as easily on Twitter or Facebook.

And find a few groups to join – you’ll be amazed at the caliber and quality of the ideas you’ll find!

Here’s how to create a group

Here are LinkedIn’s best practices for promoting your group

And check out this article from Social Media Examiner: Six Ways to Grow a LinkedIn Group – Tips from the Pros