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The Digital Brew
27 minutes | a year ago
#15 – How to fit business around kids
Welcome to The Digital Brew, a podcast about making your business more awesome online. Your hosts are Angela (a copywriter) and Stew (a web designer). Pour yourself a cuppa and let’s get started with today’s episode… In this episode, we talk about how to fit your business around kids. Cool, so this is accidentally super relevant right now First up, full disclosure: we recorded this episode about a month ago… early February and a lot has changed since then. Of course, we moved house… which kinda meant slowing down our marketing (hopefully no one noticed too much). BUT most importantly another big big change happened. The c-word. The Disease-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named because we’re all sick of hearing it at this point. So in a way, this episode we recorded way back in Feb (feels like a million years ago now) has suddenly become a whole lot more relevant. Because more people than ever before are struggling with the question… how do I fit work around my kids?! Schools are closing left right and centre (thankfully here in QLD at the time of recording this bit of the episode, schools are still open, but for how long?) It feels like that could change at any day. Who even knows what tomorrow will bring? It’s exciting, isn’t it? Anyway, we thought we’d better record a little extra intro because things have changed and the situation has become a little more widespread. Grandparents are possibly no longer a care option for us (and a lot of others) and neither is childcare/school. It’s kind of comforting in a way to know that so many people are in the same boat, at least. Preparing for kids at home 24/7 So, what are we doing at this point to prepare for probably having our kids at home with us 24/7 while trying to run our businesses? For a start, Stew and I have been talking about what that will look like and getting realistic about what we can achieve. We’re dividing up the roles more clearly than before – who works, who cooks, who cleans, who shops, who does childcare, etc. We’re also making hay while the sun still shines (getting ALL the work crammed in now while we can, and while we still have a full plate of work, as this could change with the uncertainty). … all at the same time as trying to be in the moment more with our kids as they’re so blissfully unaware of the situation, which is nice. Speaking of which, I think our kids are actually doing a bit better than usual with a slightly different routine. They’re enjoying the stability of hanging out at home a little more and getting more mum/dad time. Back to schedules… if we both have a fairly equal amount of work on, I think we’d have to work in shifts more. E.g. Angela works from 6am-1pm, both rest with kids, Stew works from 3pm-10pm. But for the moment, it’s mostly Angela doing the work and Stew dealing with the kids until they’re asleep. By the way, we’re loving naps with the kids at the moment. It’s helping us work longer days without getting as burnt out. We have napped with the kids a lot over the years, but we’re really stepping it up right now! Give yourself time to adjust So anyway, if this is all new to you… you’re going to love it and hate it probably all at the same time. It’ll take some getting used to but apparently you’ll have like 6 months of it, so give yourself grace and time to settle into new routines. Adjust your expectations of how much work you can get done and when. If you haven’t already, make sure your employer/clients are okay with you doing flexible work hours so you can get work done when you’re most efficient (aka least likely to be interrupted by kids). And just so you know, there are many parents all over the world who have been working and juggling kids at home for quite a while now and it’s do-able. You can do this. Okay, so that’s it for now, I think? We’ll try and resume regular programming sometime soon, but no promises. And maybe that’s okay because you’re not in the mood to hear about website and marketing stuff and we’re not really in the mood to talk about it, just yet. But we’re still here, making things happen while glancing at the news headlines waiting for the next thing to drop. Stay well, friends. Keep your distance. Enjoy the time with your small people as much as you can. Oh, and if you feel like you’re missing human connection, we’re only an email away and would be happy to have a chat and set up a Zoom call. Zoom is getting a major workout these days! And kids are welcome on the call, too. Big ones that ask “what’s for dinner?” and small ones that scream and fight. It’s all part of our new weird, wonderful reality. Embrace it?! Right, that’s officially it! Hope you enjoy hearing what we had to say about working with kids before things got weird. The original episode So, you’ve got a business and you’ve got kids. Or you’ve got one and you’re thinking about (or are about to) add the other… This episode is for you! We’ve been self-employed for the last 6ish years and parents for more than 4 years, with a 2yo and 4yo boy. We’re still pretty new to both, but it’s amazing how quickly you can pick things up when you have to adapt. So we thought we’d share a few insights, tips, and realities around how we fit business around our kids. The good and the bad First up, why we don’t recommend it: Running a business is hardBeing a parent is hard Put them both together and you’ll always feel torn in two different directions, like you’re never able to be your best at either thing. Sometimes it really sucks and we wonder if we made a terrible mistake. Why we do recommend it: They’re both also incredibly rewardingFlexibilityYou get to choose what you work on everyday The kids drive us nuts, but they’re also big blessings that make us laugh, help us figure out our limits, see the world in different ways, and hopefully become better people. The business gives us more freedom to adapt to our family’s needs, plus the ability to set big goals and hopefully achieve them a lot more quickly. It’s meant we’ve both been able to keep moving forward in our careers while our kids are still young. And also make a lot of choices about the kind of work we do… right now, we’re both doing stuff that’s super relevant to our interests and skills. If we were still employed in someone else’s business… in our mid-late 20s… that kind of freedom and autonomy is unheard of. How we got started I think it’s important to be open about how tough things were, especially in the beginning. We started working for ourselves before we had kids. It meant that we made a lot of mistakes and put in very long hours while we could. The risks to us were low. Our personal expenses were extremely low. We lived off very little. After we had our first kid, Stew went back to a day job for about 2 years. I massively eased up on freelancing during that time and only relaunched things properly when our second kid was 6 months old. By the time he was 1, Stew was able to quit his job again because I was making just enough money to justify it and could see the potential if I had more time/energy to grow. And Stew has just gradually been adding more hours in over the last year, with the kids both in day care a few days a week. It’s not realistic for us both to go full time just yet. You might need a second income source in the early days of starting your business – whether it’s a partner or a day job. You’ve got little people relying on you to provide for them, so you can’t take big risks and go all in without really running the numbers. How we juggle the demands of both First up: day care. We have an amazing local day care with the very best teachers who take such good care of our kids. We book them in 3 days a week (Monday-Wednesday) so we can both work full-time on those days. Thankfully, day care is a long day so we can often drop them off around 8 and pick up just before 5. School is going to be a whole new issue next year… such short workdays! On Thursdays, both kids are at home, so Stew mostly deals with them while I shut myself in the office to keep working. On Fridays, their Grandma takes one child, so Stew can sometimes run errands a bit more easily while I keep working. Then there’s evenings. After the kids finally go to sleep, we often get a few hours of extra work done before bed. We’re not always super productive, but it’s a good time to take care of admin, write emails for the next day, plan content, and things like that. And of course, weekends. Sometimes there’s a bit of weekend work if we’ve had a crazy week and feel like we’re getting behind. Maybe we’ve had a lot of appointments or the kids have been sick. Weekend work isn’t great, though, because we start the next week exhausted and it makes everyone a bit resentful… the kids are a handful on your own. We should also mention sickness. A point we should make if you’ve got little kids is you need to account for sickness a lot more than you used to. We used to get sick maybe once a year. In our kids’ first year of day care, they were sick about every second week with the most awful bugs and half the time, we got sick, too. So just remember that day care is wonderful and all… but booking and paying for 3 days of day care does not mean you’ll end up with 3 days you can get work done. Give yourself a buffer in your schedule in case this happens because it will. Podcasts were a BIG part of the journey, too. One of the things that I think helped me hit the ground running with relaunching my business was listening to podcasts. I would be dealing with two kids under two all day while Stew was at work. I’d have one ear half listening to the kids, and an earpiece in my other ear, listening to a business-related podcast. It was frustrating because I couldn’t put everything into action right away… but also good because it meant I had a lot of time to come up with ideas and let them simmer. It helped those long days go a lot more quickly, too. We have a rule that we don’t do any in-person meetings or networking events. With a few very rare exceptions, we set foot into our home office and get to work, every single day. We don’t leave the house to work or meet up with people. We don’t travel anywhere. It’s not a good use of our time/productivity at this stage. A reality of working at home means office hours aren’t always guaranteed. When everyone’s at home on a Thursday, I do sometimes leave my office cave to help Stew when the kids are being an extra handful (either they’re both screamy-crying or Stew yells out for help, or barricades himself in the office with me). Plus, it’s also hard to get them both to nap, so I do sometimes emerge to help with that (or take a nap with one of them). Locks are everything. Our kids aren’t old enough to respect closed doors, so we’ve installed a door lock on our office door. We bought it off Amazon, but basically it’s a plastic thingy that attaches to the top of the door (out of reach of the kids) and it has an arm with a hook on it that hooks into the doorframe. Unfortunately, if it’s dropped on the floor enough or the kids use a battering ram technique on the door, it can break. Still worth the investment, though! Coping with noise can be tricky. I generally try to do meetings early in the week when I know the kids are going to be out of the house because then the only noise I have to deal with is Stew randomly boiling water or dropping large kitchen items during a call. But if it’s an existing client and/or I know they have kids, I’ll do the meeting whenever because I know they’ll understand if they hear a thing or two. Plus, I have Krisp, which seems to work quite well for blocking out background noise on Zoom calls. Openness is important. We’re super open about the fact that we have kids. Most of the people we work with have them, too. We talk about them on our websites, on our social media. It means there’s no surprises when we have to adapt a little because of our kids. And we give the same grace to our clients and contractors because we know what it’s like. Working with other parents really helps. One of my favourite things (especially while I was trying to relaunch my services with a baby) was working with other mums. They just get it. They appreciate what you’re going through and will be your biggest encouragers and champions. You can bond over business and breastfeeding all in the same conversation and it’s not even weird, at all. I found it really inspiring to follow entrepreneurs online who were also raising young families because it showed me what was possible (and what wasn’t) so that I could create that for myself. Because no one in my direct circles (family or friends) were charting a path like this. To sum it up… get as much help as you can! Well… it’s not easy, but we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s not like we have a choice at this point, either I think the biggest thing is to get help. Make sure you’ve got a solid support system in place because kids and businesses both take up a LOT of time. Especially in the beginning. Grandparents are great. Day care is amazing. Door locks are also amazing. If you try and fail, don’t give up. Things can change a lot in a short time… find other ways to make money, get a job, be a mum/dad for a bit, and then give it another go. Good luck and let us know how you go and if you have any questions we haven’t answered here, please feel free to shoot us an email or reach out on the socials. Our next episode jumps back into a more technical topic – where to purchase domains and get hosting.Thanks for tuning in to The Digital Brew with Ange and Stew. Make sure you head over to thedigitalbrew.com for more episodes, detailed show notes, resources, and our newsletter. And if you feel like this episode has helped make your business more awesome, pop us a review. We’ll catch you next time!
19 minutes | a year ago
#14 – How to make your website super fast
16 minutes | a year ago
#13 – Worstest website crimes
Welcome to The Digital Brew, a podcast about making your business more awesome online. Your hosts are Angela (a copywriter) and Stew (a web designer). Pour yourself a cuppa and let’s get started with today’s episode… First of all welcome back from our mini-break! Life got a little crazy and we ran out of batched episodes so the most logical thing to do was to hit pause for a few weeks while we got on top of things. But we’re back! And we’ve got a whole new batch of episodes planned and ready to roll. Today’s episode is all about websites… and the terrible, awful things people do to them. We’re approaching this topic from a “business website” perspective – as in, websites that are set up to generate leads or sales. So if you’ve got a hobby website or blog, it’ll be less relevant for you, but you might still glean a few useful tips. Anyway, this one should be useful for just about anyone with a website who wants to improve their traffic or conversions… or just make sure they’re following best practices. Today, we’ll look at UI/UX, copywriting, and SEO. 5 UI/UX crimes 1. Pre-loaders There are only two reasons you would want a pre-loader: You have a slow website You want to look fancy. Neither are good reasons, and you’ll lose visitors as a result of both. Don’t use a pre-loader! 2. Too many animations Too many animations can overwhelm website visitors. They won’t know where to look or what to focus on. It can also slow down your website, especially on older computers or mobile devices, which can cause you to lose visitors. Keep your animations subtle and don’t overdo it. 3. Hamburger menu on desktop Unless you have crazy complex navigation (which you shouldn’t), I can’t see why you’d need a tiny hamburger nav icon in place of a text menu on the desktop view. It’s better to have your main pages as text, and then stick all the other bits and pieces in a popup/slide-out mobile navigation. 4. Unpredictable layout and navigation Don’t get creative with your website layout and navigation! People generally expect the logo on the left, the menu on the right. Trying to be hip and creative will just make your visitors lost and confused and they’ll click away. 5. Large sticky header and footer If you have a sticky header or any other sticky element, make sure it doesn’t take up too much space on mobile. And if you decide to have content stick to the top and bottom of the screen… well, just don’t (I’m looking at you, Big W). 5 SEO crimes 1. Keyword stuffing I still see people doing this. Don’t do it! Keyword stuffing is risky and creates a bad user experience. Use your keywords naturally and conversationally. I think it’s also worth keeping keyword density in mind (up to 1 mention per 100 words) but not at the expense of UX, and this includes using different variations and synonyms. 2. Sitemap.xml indexing stuff you don’t want indexed This is super common. People install their SEO plugin or sitemap plugin and don’t customise it. And it ends up indexing some random stuff that doesn’t serve any purpose to users, like… tag categories or template pages. You need to make sure your sitemap tells search engines what you do and don’t want to be indexed. 3. Page titles and descriptions are ignored We STILL see blank meta titles and descriptions, or people using the same copy-paste ones across all pages. Think about what you want to show up in Google’s search results (or on Facebook if someone shared a link back to your website), how you’d (briefly) describe the page, and what would make people click. Naturally include relevant keywords, if you can. Don’t waste your meta titles by writing your brand name over and over again in every title. You’ve only got 50-60 characters, so make them count. 4. Bad header tag usage You should have one H1 per page as the main heading. Ideally, include your best keyword for the page in it. Then use H2s for your subheadings, and if you have headings nested under those, use H3s. Header tags are a good place for keywords but they’re also important for UX and usability – ensuring people can scan the page quickly. 5. Not enough copy If you want a page to rank, you’ll probably need to write more than a hundred words of copy. Don’t be afraid of longer copy! Especially if you have a competitive, complex, or expensive product or service to sell. Serious buyers will want to soak up as much information as possible and will appreciate any insights you can give them, along with actual info about what’s included, the process, and what it costs. Structure your page well with: HeadersWhite spaceCalls-to-actionUpside-down pyramid shape structure with important info at the top, supporting details at the bottom Then people will be able to scan it easily OR read the whole thing. 4 Copywriting crimes 1. Welcoming people to your site If you use your first 100 words or above the fold to welcome people to your site, it’s a waste of space. It’s meaningless. Your website doesn’t need a welcome mat. It needs to quickly show a busy reader who you are, what you do, and how to get to the next bit of info they’re looking for. 2. Making it all about you Your website should talk about you, but only in the right places and dosages. Put the focus on the audience first – who they are, what their problems are, and what they get when they buy from you. Once they see that you *get* them, they’ll be interested and ready to read about you. 3. Hiding behind a brand The copy should mention the people behind the brand. It should talk about you or your team. Too many websites skim over this detail and it makes me feel suspicious about the brand… is it even real? Is it a scam? Why are these people too embarrassed to put their names and faces on the site? 4. Walls of text I love writing lots of copy, but you have to be careful to avoid creating big chunks of text. Break it up. It’s totally fine to have short one-sentence paragraphs in places – these days, if in doubt, add a line break. Especially because so many users are on mobile phones – it doesn’t take much for a paragraph to fill their entire screen! Use italics and bolding along with headings, icons, and images to help break up the text, make it scannable, and stop the reader from getting tired. Let’s wrap things up We could talk about this alllll day but I suppose we’d better stop here. Maybe we’ll do a part 2 sometime? We’ve covered some of the most common issues we see come up across website UX, SEO, and copywriting. My advice would be to step back and go through this list. Do an audit of your site and see what issues come up, then fix them. You’re probably not making all these mistakes, but there’s a good chance you could improve in at least a few areas. (I know I could!) Okay, that’s it! We’ll catch you in the next episode, which is all about how to make your website super fast.Thanks for tuning in to The Digital Brew with Ange and Stew. Make sure you head over to thedigitalbrew.com for more episodes, detailed show notes, resources, and our newsletter. And if you feel like this episode has helped make your business more awesome, pop us a review. We’ll catch you next time!
27 minutes | a year ago
#12 – Sales tips and tactics
Welcome to The Digital Brew, a podcast about making your business more awesome online. Your hosts are Angela (a copywriter) and Stew (a web designer). Pour yourself a cuppa and let’s get started with today’s episode… In this episode, we’ll be talking about sales. But not from a sales expert perspective. There are plenty of sales podcasts out there you can listen to if that’s what you’re looking for. And we would seriously muddle it up and provide you with bad sales advice if we tried to do that! But from the perspective of two non-salesy humans who rely on selling their services to support their family (scary stuff)… And also from the perspective of being sold to. Because we’ve recently made a pretty big purchase for our family and been through an interesting sales process ourselves. And we’ve also purchased a few big things for our businesses in the last few years. This’ll be useful for you if you’d like to take a look at your own sales processes from a buyer’s perspective and get some ideas for what to do and what not to do. Or find out what works to get buyers (like us) over the line. We have stories! I (Angela) am actually super interested in sales. I find it fascinating to watch and be part of someone’s sales process because I want to understand what’s happening and where things go right and wrong. Which makes sense – as a copywriter, I am essentially a salesperson but instead of calling people and knocking on their doors, I write websites and content to help get poeple over the line. But it wasn’t always this way. I used to be pretty anti-sales just a few years ago… probably back when I worked as a marketing manager in a busy sales office. Lovely people, but it wasn’t really my vibe. Sales calls, prospect lists, KPIs, contracts, follow ups. Actually, maybe it was the open plan office space that was the real issue here! *Major introvert alert* After that job, I went straight into working for myself. Which meant that I had to become comfortable with sales and selling myself VERY quickly. I did a lot of reading, wrote a lot of notes (especially for calls with prospects), and did a lot of meetings. And I gradually got more and more comfortable with selling. What I’ve realised is that selling is not about getting someone to do what you want them to do. In the beginning, you’re so desperate for people to say yes. And I think they can tell, which makes the sales process that much more… needy and awkward. Selling is actually just about finding out what someone needs, recommending a solution (and pricing it up) if you’re a fit, and then leaving them with the information they need to make a decision (and the opportunity to ask any questions). You have to become detached emotionally. In fact, I expect every prospect to say no – not that I’m negative – I’m a very positive person! But I have no expectations that anyone will sign up until the proposal is accepted and I have the first payment in the bank. Okay, so this was a bit of a ramble… but what I mean to say is that the way I think about sales has changed a lot, and I think it’s had a huge impact on outcomes. I’ve increased my prices significantly over the years and yet I think my acceptance rates have gone up. I feel like over the last few months, at least 75% of my proposals have been accepted (it could be more or less because I haven’t looked at my numbers). And they say that usually if over 50% of people say yes, that means you’re too cheap (and that may still be the case with me!) but I suspect it’s also because I’m making the process smooth and I’m taking all pressure off clients when they make decisions. I try to make it as unsalesy as possible for them and just respect that they’ll make the right call for their business. And I’m confident that they will. What’s really interesting about that is that it’s so different to how so many people sell. I don’t go looking for sales techniques to try and persuade people and get them across the line. Unlike some people… This might be a good time to talk about our recent experience of buying a new car. (Okay, so it was new to us, at least, but not brand new from the factory because I think it’s a better use of money to buy slightly used cars… but that’s a whole other topic.) Back in October, our only car died suddenly. It had been getting to a point where if something big broke, it’d cost more than the value of the whole car to fix it. Which means you may as well buy a new car. Plus we needed to upsize because things were getting squishy in a sedan with two small kids and all their accessories. The car breaking was inconvenient, but the timing felt right in a lot of ways, especially with our 2-week holiday coming up – we could really do with the extra space. So with our only car towed away never to be seen again, we borrowed Stew’s mum’s car and visited a couple of car dealerships in Brisbane to look at some cars we’d found online. Oh yes, if you haven’t already guessed, this story is about used car salespeople. At the first car dealership we visited, we tried one particular car. The salesperson was very busy and hard to get hold of. Eventually, he opened up the car and then let us take it for a drive. It drove okay. The seats were leather and it was black, which isn’t great in the hot Brisbane climate, but not a total dealbreaker. It was a reasonable price and in good condition. Before we moved on, they asked about what other cars we were looking at. We told them honestly that we’re off to look at the exact same car, same age, but it’s white and diesel. That’s when they gave us a funny look. They got us to come inside and speak to the other people there, because according to them this particular diesel model has a bit of a bad reputation. We hadn’t heard this but apparently an unusually high portion had issues with the DPF needing to be replaced – pretty expensive stuff. And they also mentioned they don’t stock any diesels because they cause too many problems. Apparently. Of course, we were a little suspicious. It was in their best interests for us to buy their petrol model, after all. But we smiled and nodded and thanked them for our advice. We did have an appointment to look at the other car, though, so off we went. On the way, we did our research and it turns out that yes, there were reports of issues that they mentioned. So we were basically off to waste our time looking at a car we would never buy. Oh well. We turn up and go find the car in the yard at the dealership. It’s lovely. White. Much more our type of colour. Just feels right. Looks nice and clean. The dealer offers to take us for a drive. We tell him… Honestly, look, we’ve heard about the DPF issues. What do you think? He looks a bit taken aback. Clearly he was aware of some issues, but said that he didn’t know of any issues with this batch – only earlier ones. But while we were out here, we may as well give the car a try? So we did. It was lovely and smooth. Drove better than the other car, which was surprising.. The seats were comfy. It felt right. But we were hesitant. So we did some more research and found issues were only mentioned for the older models. We want to make a decision quickly. After all, we didn’t have a car. In fact, we really wanted to take a car home today or tomorrow if possible (and mentioned this to the salesman). We left with all the info in a pack and headed across the road to talk over lunch. We very quickly decided to get the diesel car. Stew umms and ahhs over everything. But I’ve decided. We need to act. Sitting on the fence hurts my bottom so I’m all in. Then we talk about finance. We could just stretch our budget enough to pay outright… but do we get finance? It sounds as though finance might slow the process down and we want that car ASAP! So outright it is. We call the dealership and say we’re in. We put down the deposit immediately and head to our bank to get a cheque made up for the full amount. Racing to get it in before COB. Just after we get back to the dealership, we hear that the admin people go home (at like 2 in the afternoon!?). So that means we can’t do all the registration transfer today, unlike what was promised. Still, we’re excited. We’ll get our car tomorrow… right? Saturday? Then we can get back into normal life with our own car in time for daycare dropoffs on Monday? Yeah, hopefully. And then the salesman says, “Have a chat to this chick. She’ll run you through how it all works.” She waltzes on over, big smiles, asking us questions about our family, our kids, what we’ve got going on in life, what’s coming up. So we talk to be friendly, answer her questions, and wonder where this is going. *Sales tactic alert – find common ground, pretend to be interested in your prospect.* At this point she has found her lead in. Kids in a hot car going on a long trip. She says, “Well you’ll be really interested in this then.” And she proceeds to say, “We like to do this to all of our vehicles here.” *Sales tactic alert! Make it sound like everyone gets it because you want to be like everyone. And in fact make it sound compulsory, like they’ll hold your car hostage if you don’t do it.* And then she talks for 15 minutes nonstop about paint protection and window tinting. At first we’re like… oh this is covered under what we paid? You know – no more to pay! But as she continued it became more obvious that she was trying to sell us on something, and hard. Eventually, we got to the point where we
14 minutes | a year ago
#11 – Launching a new brand for the first time
Welcome to The Digital Brew, a podcast about making your business more awesome online. Your hosts are Angela (a copywriter) and Stew (a web designer). Pour yourself a cuppa and let’s get started with today’s episode… In this episode, we talk about launching a new brand of the first time. Oh, by the way… happy new year! What better way to launch a new year than to launch a new brand (or relaunch an existing one). New year, new brand! Lame… sorry. As you may know, we only recently launched TDB at the end of last year. We’ve kept a close record of all the tasks we did and the processes we followed in getting all our marketing and processes set up and we’ve been sharing it with you over the last few months. This is the last episode in that series, and this one covers the actual launch period. As in, all those final things we did to get the brand out there in the world, go public, and actually launch it so we could start signing up our first clients. This’ll be useful for you if you’re planning a brand launch, but you could also adapt this process for smaller launches like… new products or services. The same principles apply. Let’s get into what we did… Pre-launch campaign Our pre-launch campaign is basically the time between when we announced that we had a new thing coming, through to when we made the website live. During this period, we did a bunch of things… We set up a coming soon page on the website with a signup form so that people could join our “wait list” to get notified about new details as soon as they became available. We created “info packs”, which were two designed pdfs that described our not-yet-live services. We emailed these out to anyone who enquired early on (before going live) so we had something to show them – and maybe even sell them on. We also developed a referral partner info pack because we have a few existing contacts that refer work to us. We wanted to be able to reward them, create a system for it, and set some expectations. (The expectations were NOT that we would get referrals – nothing like that. But simply talking about % referral fees, what they apply to, and when they get paid.) We also wrote blogs for our individual, personal brand websites announcing that The Digital Brew was coming soon. You can see Angela’s here and Stew’s here. Since we’d set up social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram) for The Digital Brew, we used the pre-launch period to start populating these pages with content – a few posts each week. If you use Instagram, you’ll know that a blank feed is a big no-no so we filled our first 9 posts up with a giant graphic announcing that TDB was coming soon. You can scroll back in our Instagram feed and take a look, if you like. Plus, we had our own existing social media pages and followings (small, but reasonably engaged!). We used these to share the new brand’s pages with our existing audiences so that people could follow along there if they were interested. Bringing it back to emails, I (Angela) already had an existing email list of a bit over 100 people. Small but again, reasonably engaged. I invited them to sign up to the waitlist and get emails about TDB. I didn’t want to email my existing list about TDB because it’s not what they’d signed up for, so it had to be separate lists with a fresh opt-in. Although I do keep both brands within the same Active Campaign account. All up, we had around 3 weeks of social media posts and warm up emails to the waitlist. These were geared at sharing a little info about what’s coming (pretty much a sneak peek but not a full reveal). And of course, we had to plan our first lot of podcast episodes (about 10?). We recorded the first 3, ready for launch. This involved coming up with a podcast name (haha yeah, we kinda went the easy route there) graphics, descriptions, intro/outro, music (by Stew!), and the format for each episode. Finally, we chose a launch date. We did this a few days into pre-launch because we weren’t 100% sure when we’d be ready until then. We went with a Tuesday 3 weeks after kicking off pre-launch. Thish worked well because it gave us just enough time to wrap things up, but not so much time that it would drag on, we’d lose interest, our audience would forget aobut it, or we’d procrastinate (which is very tempting when you’re doing something that stretches/scares you). Once we had a launch date, we kept mentioning it in most emails and social media posts so that people would remember when we’d be live. Go-live day On the Tuesday morning, we ran final testing of the website and made it live! If you want to know all the steps involved in launching a website, check out episode 7. We allowed a few hours for testing to make sure that things were set up properly and running smoothly before we promoted it online. That afternoon, we shared the link out on social media, as well as sending emails to our lists. And that was it! We were officially live! Results So, let’s talk a bi about the results we got from this process. We had a decent amount of traffic and lots of great feedback – especially about the branding and the website. It’s not like we have a huge list or following… so we’re really happy with the amount of exposure and interest we got on launch day (and the days following). Plus, we had a few enquiries about packages and pricing before we even launched, thanks to the pre-launch campaign and info packs. Something that surprised us is we had less interest from our target audience than we expected, and more interest from small boutique marketing companies that wanted a web design company they could partner with or refer their clients to. So, that was cool. We soon booked in our first project and we have another project (or two) potentially lined up for once that’s finished. We didn’t get a project signed immediately during pre-launch or the first week or so of launch, but that’s okay. We already had a pretty full plate, went on holidays, Christmas was coming up, etc. In hindsight, late October probably isn’t the best time of year to launch if you’re relying on a lot of B2B sales (thankfully we weren’t). Overall, we’re super happy with the traction we gained, considering our existing audience was/is quite small. And also considering we’re upfront about our pricing and packages – the people who DO enquire are serious. If we didn’t have that up, we’d probably have got more enquiries, but there would’ve been a lot more time wasting. We were able to build enough momentum to get things rolling and it will continue from there. Okay, so let’s wrap this baby up! If you’re launching a new brand or product, or relaunching something, definitely consider doing a pre-launch campaign. Spend a few weeks talking about what’s to come and building excitement. Think about how you can engage people before your thing is released to the public and create a slick info-pack or sales document. Also, think about how you can engage your top influencers and best customers to become referral partners. It feels so good to create a system for this since it’ll probably happen organically anyway. Oh, and don’t forget to use your existing platforms and channels to promote what you’re doing next. This is pretty straightforward if you have personal brands like we do, but don’t overdo it if your brands don’t work well together. Give your new product/brand a brief mention, show them where they can find out more, and then resume regular programming. Another thing – plan your launch so that the timing works best for your audience. Choose to launch at a time that makes sense for your product or service. If you’re in B2B, don’t do it right before a holiday period! Unless you want a soft launch like we did. And that’s it! We’ll catch you in the next episode, which is all about sales tips and tactics.Thanks for tuning in to The Digital Brew with Ange and Stew. Make sure you head over to thedigitalbrew.com for more episodes, detailed show notes, resources, and our newsletter. And if you feel like this episode has helped make your business more awesome, pop us a review. We’ll catch you next time!
19 minutes | a year ago
#10 – Workflow and processes
Welcome to The Digital Brew, a podcast about making your business more awesome online. Your hosts are Angela (a copywriter) and Stew (a web designer). Pour yourself a cuppa and let’s get started with today’s episode… In this episode, we talk about workflow and processes with a focus on marketing, sales, and client onboarding. We want to give you an insight into how we do things behind the scenes. A lot of thought has gone into setting things up (plus a lot of experience over the last few years in our own business, and working directly with clients). So perhaps we can save you a bit of time and effort if you’re looking at reviewing your processes in 2020. Maybe we can give you an idea or two to make things that little bit quicker and easier for you and your clients. Of course, we’re just a two-person team at the moment – a copywriter and a web designer who do website copy and design packages (plus occasional VA help and an accountant). So we’re hardly running a sophisticated operation. But we do juggle multiple clients, deadlines, complex projects, and lots of different tools. We really rely on good systems to keep it all flowing smoothly. What’s the difference between workflow and processes? First, some definitions. While they’re similar, workflow and processes aren’t exactly the same. I did a bit of Googling and manage to confuse myself no end but found these definitions: Workflow is a series of repeatable activities that you need to carry out to finish a task. This generally has a focus on technologies and tools that enable info and tasks to flow between people or departments. A process is a set of repeatable activities and tasks (ordered in a logical way, with cause and effect relations between them) that need to be carried out to accomplish an organisational goal (which is generally to deliver a product, service, information, decision, or other output to an internal or external customer). So they’re both about repeating activities, ticking off tasks, and accomplishing goals, basically. So, let’s talk about some of the key processes we have in our business that enable us to deliver projects to our clients, and the tools we use to make that process as smooth as possible. Marketing processes We’ve got the website and branding in place already (we’ve talked extensively about how we set that up already in previous episodes, so we won’t go into detail here). Apart from that, we’ve got the podcast for ongoing content each week. Our podcast process looks like this: Write dot points in shared Google doc for what we want to talk aboutSet up mics and test the audioRecord an episode using Adobe AuditionEdit episode – add intro, add outro, cut out mistakesWrite show notes based on dot points (like a rough blog)Write email and social media postsCreate graphics for podcast and social mediaAdd podcast episode on Tuesday evening (so it goes out to the podcast players before we promote it)Schedule/share email and social media post via Social Bee later in the week Aside from promoting the podcast, we also share a more personal post on social media every week. Usually, we tell a short story or share some kind of behind-the-scenes insight, accompanied by an Instagram-worthy-ish photo. Sales processes After someone experiences our brand through the marketing channels we already mentioned (or word of mouth/referral), if they want to work together, they’ll send an enquiry. This is where our sales process kicks in: We chat on the phone or via email (sometimes both)They send through a client application form (we provide this as a Google survey – or in a Google doc if multiple people need to collaborate on the application)We review the application form and see if they’re a fitIf they’re a fit, we do up a Google doc with goals, recommendations, and quote (inclusions and pricing), plus next steps and availabilityThere might be some negotiation around inclusions (phone or email) If/when they’re happy to move ahead, we’ll put the content into our proper proposal software (Nusii) and send it through via emailClient clicks the “accept” button, pays the deposit through Stripe, and we officially book them into our schedule! Which brings us to the next lot of processes… Client onboarding Here’s how we onboard clients: Send a really happy welcome email as soon as possible after proposal acceptance and payment! Add them to our Slack channel that’s dedicated to the project/brand (send invite link via email)Add them to the client portal board on Trello (duplicate our template one and tailor it to the client) Just to expand on that client portal board, since we’re pretty proud of it… This is designed to outline our process really transparently for clients. (We also have our process listed on on our website/proposals but this goes into ALL the details.) Our trello lists are: Getting StartedStage 1: PlanStage 2: Content creationStage 3: DesignStage 4: LaunchOngoing management Under each list, we have cards that include tasks (for us and/or the client), links to resources, and important information). We use labels to colour-code the cards and show the following statuses: CompletedIn progressAwaiting client inputReference/info onlyNot ready to start yet Clients can comment on items in Trello and add info to the cards, if they like. But for the most part, they’ll collaborate with us via Slack. So, Trello is sort of like a project management system, but we’re mainly using it as an information hub for our clients. It’s got our client-facing processes for transparency so they know what we’re up to and what’s coming up next. In the past, we found that if they didn’t have this system, clients wouldn’t feel as confident/comfortable. We might spend a lot more time emailing them with updates or answering their questions. Finally, another client onboarding process is we send a detailed briefing survey. This is an epic document. It takes hours to fill out but captures a lot of valuable info for the copy/design project. Behind-the-scenes tools We won’t go into great detail about our design/copywriting processes because we’ve already covered them in previous episodes. So, let’s just talk about the main tool we use to manage our processes and workflows. Yep, it’s Asana! All the tasks that aren’t client-facing go in here. We have an organisation set up for “The Digital Brew” and under that, we have teams and under each team, we have projects. This hierarchy helps keep everything organised (even though we’re pretty much a two-person team at this stage!). Here’s what we’ve got in each team and project. Launches team – We use this for projects relating to new products/servicesSales team – We have a project in here called “Pipeline” which is set up as a Kanban style board. We add new leads as a card and drag them along as they progress through the pipeline. Then we convert the card to a project once they become a client (pretty nifty Asana feature that’s sorta buried so you might have to hunt for it).Delivery team – This is for all our client work. We have an example project process as a template. Then we have a project set up for each client that has all our tasks relating to their projects, including copywriting, design, planning, and admin stuff like invoicing and communications.Internal team – Here we’ve got a project dedicated to ideas and another one dedicated to admin/finance. You could split that last board up into two separate projects if you have a lot going on there. It’s pretty simple for us at the moment.Marketing team – This team includes our podcast project, website project, and socials project. All tasks relating to each of these types of marketing go onto these project boards. Asana is good because of the hierarchy – the layout works for my brain. It’s a bit annoying and a bit of a learning curve in the beginning, so be prepared to hate it for a bit if you’re new to Asana. But I like how the information is sorted out. It’s also free for us (until we grow beyond the limits). I think at this stage, you can have up to 15 users before you have to pay, and there’s some advanced features you can only access in a paid account. But we don’t need them at the moment. I also like the recurring tasks/due dates options – this makes managing your workflow a lot easier for stuff that has to happen over and over again. Things like admin, accounting, and content creation/sharing. We’ve tried a few other tools as an alternative to Asana but nothing else has stuck. We recently bought a lifetime deal for Freedcamp which has some really awesome features but we haven’t got used to the UX yet. Might switch over at some point… we’ll see! And we’ll be sure to share on the podcast if/when we do. Let’s sum it up That’s pretty much it! We shared just a snapshot of our processes and workflows – there’s a lot more. But these are some of the key ones – and hopefully some of the most relevant ones for other service-based businesses and creatives. We’re happy to answer your questions about any of these, or cover anything we haven’t mentioned. So please feel free to leave a comment below and we’ll reply to you. Or send me an email email@example.com. A few final thoughts… Don’t get too hasty with your tools or obsess over finding the right tool for your workflows. In fact, get it all written out on paper first. Do it manually for awhile. Then you’ll know what processes and workflows you need to create a good client experience and make things happen smoothly behind the scenes before you try to make it fit into a tool. Another thing – look for ways to make your clients’ experience as excellent as possible. That should be your key focus – creating really good client-facing processes. We put a lot of work into setting up our client portal on Trello, including pretty graphics and lots of bits of copy and even videos to explain things. It’s part of creating a premium service. Then we adapted our back-end processes to fit around that. Also, sometimes you’ll find a tool that’s 80% of what you need. That’s actually pretty good! You’ll probably never find something that’s 100% unless you can build it yourself. So, do the best you can with the tools you can find (and there’s even so many good free ones out there). And be willing to work around their limitations. Righteo (as my grandpa would say). That’s it! We’ll catch you in the next episode, which is all about launching a new brand for the first time.Thanks for tuning in to The Digital Brew with Ange and Stew. Make sure you head over to thedigitalbrew.com for more episodes, detailed show notes, resources, and our newsletter. And if you feel like this episode has helped make your business more awesome, pop us a review. We’ll catch you next time!
29 minutes | a year ago
#9 – How we set goals
Welcome to The Digital Brew, a podcast about making your business more awesome online. Your hosts are Angela (a copywriter) and Stew (a web designer). Pour yourself a cuppa and let’s get started with today’s episode… In this episode, we talk about how we set goals. So, we’re pretty much in no-mans land at the moment. At least, that’s what it feels like when you’re between Christmas and New Year. Like 2019 is so over already, but it’s not 2020 yet. Which is why we thought this would be the perfect time to share a little bit about how we set goals for 2019 and how we’re setting them again for 2020. (Plus it’s a good excuse to make Stew sit down and actually think about goal setting for a bit. Muahaha!) I (Angela) have been pretty big on goal setting for the last 5-ish years. Over the last couple of years, I’ve been intentional about writing down a list of things I want to see happen in the next year. I’ve also started doing a word for the year, which I’ll talk about in a bit. But first, let’s talk about goals. Where do I write them? Maybe this is a bit different to most people. A few years ago, I would write them down in a notebook – pretty normal. In fact, I still have the ones I wrote down in the beginning of 2015 (just before we had kids!). But last year, Stew and I started adding our goals as notes on Google keep. It’s digital, so we have them there for reference whenever we want to take a look, we won’t misplace a paper copy, and they’re shared so we can keep each other accountable. So, what goals did we set? We won’t share all our goals, but here are a few we wrote down at the end of 2018 and some notes to show what we have/haven’t achieved: Angela: Most weekends and evenings back by July (getting there…)Maleny holiday with Stewart September (nope)One week in May away in Melbourne (yes, but not with Stew)Daily walks (fizzled out after a couple of months)Wean Bazza by end of year (yep!)Both kids toilet trained (a little over halfway there)16k monthly revenue (mostly there… occasionally it’s been over this)Get known for one or two things (yes!)Launch highly profitable and systemised packages (yes!)Launch digital product offers (yes… but only just getting started here)Launch community (nope)Start weekly podcast (yep! )Trial a fitness program (yes!)Save 2K per month (yes but was depleted… see below)New car (yep!) Stew: 10.30pm bedtime (pretty much yes)Nathaniel fall asleep on his own (yes!)Feel healthier by the end of the year (nah)Read one book to kids each day (yep yep yep!)Go outside for at least 10 minutes per day (yes)Make a home cooked meal 3 times per week (yes, usually more)Write lullaby album (work in progress…) As you can see, there’s a mix of personal, family, and business/career goals, all blended in together. I really like having them all in one place because it’s important to move forward in all those areas. Imagine spending a whole year just moving forward in your business? Or ignoring your career and doing family for a year? I mean, that might be fine for some people and phases of life (like I pretty much did when baby #1 was born) but it’s not for me right now. So, how many of these came true for us? Quite a few. Even some big ones or ones that seemed really unlikely at the time of writing our goals have happened. It’s amazing to look back and see how far we’ve come in just a year. And I definitely feel like writing the goals down helped us set our intentions and make decisions that get us moving in that direction. The stuff that didn’t really happen? I feel okay about. We made solid progress in some areas and will get there on the important stuff. Some of the goals became less of a priority or didn’t really make sense anymore as the year went on. So that’s okay. Funnily enough, we DID end up getting a new car… because the old one broke down quite suddenly in October this year. Otherwise we might not have achieved that one. And it’s a very good thing we’d been saving a bit of money each month because it meant buying a new car wasn’t as painful as it would’ve otherwise been. All in all, I (Angela) definitely want to keep writing goals each year. We also have some bigger, more long-term goals planned out and written down somewhere. The main one (that I made back in 2017) was to move to our ideal location within 10 years, so 2027. It’s really exciting to see how much closer we are to that each year. Actually, something I want to do soon is plan even further ahead than 10 years so we have a little more long-term direction. After all, we are in our late 20s, so there’s a looong road ahead of us. The better we plan now, the more we’ll be able to make the most of it. For 2020, here are some goals we’ve written down so far: Angela: Plan 3 novel ideasPlan 3 business book ideasUpsize houseAttend PT twice a weekPlane holiday with stewMaleny holiday with stewFamily holiday at beach for 2 weeks$25k monthly revenue totalJoin a good mastermindRun 1km without stopping Stew: Read for one hour per day (at least)Write a simple pluginLevel up design skills, maybe do weekly design challenges or somethingStop being such a motionless fatty boombahLearn more patience (take a chill pill)Slow down and be a better dad How do these goals make us feel right now? As for me (Angela) I feel realllllly stretched but excited. The book ideas make me feel excited to do some writing and planning for myself (not just client work and business stuff, yay!). But also a bit overwhelmed… can I really come up with 6 good ideas? Or even 1? Upsizing our house will almost certainly happen because we have to move in March and we need an extra room and more backyard space. We’ve outgrown our small 3-bedder! I feel like 2/3 of the holidays will happen – two holidays with just me and Stew might be a stretch, but it’ll depend on how generous the grandparents are feeling with their time They don’t seem to like taking both our 2yo and 4yo at the same time, particularly not overnight. I mean why is that? What’s up with that? Our children are angels… great sleepers… perfect darlings. The monthly revenue goal sounds scary. It’s a little more than double my current monthly average (although some months I have gone well over this). But with TDB bringing in clients and projects in 2020 and working on projects with Stew (not just by myself), we’ll have almost double the manpower (almost because Stew isn’t full time yet because the kids are in day care 3 days per week, not because he’s less of a human than me ;-)). So even though the revenue goal sounds big, it’s probably do-able. Hopefully we’ll get there by the end of the year! Running 1km sounds a bit crazy for me even though it’s not a big deal to most people (my PT doesn’t do much cardio – we’re all about the weights!). But I wanted to include something that would stretch me physically and improve my health. The plan is to learn a bit more about good running techniques and build up to it. At the moment, I could probably run 200m so I have a lot of work to do! This might be a good time to mention that I heard from one of our listeners, Mal Gibson (also my Uncle who runs Herdz, horse supplements and supplies online): “Hi Angela and Stew – love your work. Yes – we do set short and long terms goals. Without them the business would be directionless. No – don’t always reach them but at times we have far exceeded what we thought we could achieve. Never underestimate the possibilities. All the best for your business and I look forward to listening to your next podcast.” Was so good to hear from Mal. He’s been doing this business thing a LOT longer than us so it’s really encouraging to hear that he sets goals, too. And also that they don’t always work out the way you expect… and sometimes you go way beyond what you thought possible. Okay, so let’s talk about words of the year… In 2019, I had 3… freedom, opportunity, serve. Based on a Bible verse that really jumped out as being quite powerful for how I wanted the year to go. “For you were called to be free, brothers and sisters; only don’t use this freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but serve one another through love.” Galatians 5:13. I knew that 2019 would bring more freedom and time than the previous years, and I wanted to focus on making the most of that time, not wasting it, but using every opportunity to be productive and serve my family and my clients. I didn’t do this perfectly, but I think for the most part I was more productive than ever before. I’m getting better at it! It’s been all about learning how to make myself get more done and find a little bit of balance to serve both family and work in amongst all the craziness. For 2020, my word that I’ve chosen is strong. What’s interesting about this is it’s not a word I would’ve ever associated with. Words that more naturally fit me would be gentle, soft, and squishy! But that’s starting to change – and I want to focus more on becoming strong. Not just physically, but mentally, and in my brands and businesses. That’s because I’ve noticed that when you’re strong, you’re resilient. You can build something that lasts longer and weathers a lot more change and challenges. And the same thing goes on a personal level – mental and physical strength mean you can get through rough patches with more ease than you would otherwise. In my business, that’s about looking at ways to make it more sustainable long-term. Looking at risk management, making the brand stronger, building in systems and processes for everything so that if something happened in the future that meant either of us couldn’t work, the work could continue on. Mentally? I want to keep challenging myself and putting myself out there. I want to make sure I don’t shy away from challenges that might scare me. That might mean showing up as a guest on another podcast (which totally freaks me out because I like being in control and having things pretty scripted!). Or going to more networking events. Or learning about a topic that really stretches me mentally. When I do that, it makes those things less scary and means I’m able to reach for bigger things. And physically. I’ve never been sporty… ever. But in May 2019, I signed up with a PT and have been seeing her twice a week for strength training (when we’re not sick or on holidays!). It’s been really interesting to see what my body can do. I’ve felt pain in muscles that I didn’t know existed! But I’ve also said goodbye to 4 years of constant back and hip pain (thanks babies/pregnancy/sitting in a chair all day). In 2020, I definitely want to keep this going and maybe even add in some at home equipment if we have space for it. Oh and just like my word for the year in 2019, 2020 has some lovely Bible references, too. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46:1-3. “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7 “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Corinthians 12:9 Stew isn’t really that into words of the year… but maybe I’ll be able to get him into it in the future So, let’s wrap things up with a few key takeaways. First of all, to state the obvious… make sure you set goals! Make them big, but think about how you’ll achieve them – break them down and make sure they’re doable. Include a mixture of personal, family, and business goals. Come up with a word of the year if you like that kind of thing. But if you don’t, that’s okay, too! If you don’t like setting goals or it doesn’t come naturally to you, find someone who does it well and buddy up with them. They can help you talk through some positive changes you’d like to make in your life and what goals could make sense for your year so you can move in that direction. Plus, they can help keep you accountable. Share your goals – whether on a podcast (like this!), with a friend/family member, on social media, or any kind of safe space. Another little hack is to make your goals accessible and visible so you can look back on them throughout the year. If you’ve got a big, important goal, make it visible in your workspace or home. Change your password so you have to type it out every day! Without being too woo, it really does help you keep focused on where you’re headed. That’s it! Have a wonderful Christmas/New Year and we’ll catchya in the next decade. (Haha, sorry… bet you haven’t heard that one before.)Thanks for tuning in to The Digital Brew with Ange and Stew. Make sure you head over to thedigitalbrew.com for more episodes, detailed show notes, resources, and our newsletter. And if you feel like this episode has helped make your business more awesome, pop us a review. We’ll catch you next time!
23 minutes | a year ago
#8 – Admin, accounting, and legal stuff for new businesses
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