First my story and then 100 real life things you can do to ramp up your online business in 100 days.
I am currently on my third 100 day challenge run by The Business Bakery. Each challenge has pushed me to cross into new territory, try different things, push myself and start daily habits. In a nut shell, a 100 day challenge is where you set yourself a measurable goal and then split it into 100 tiny little actions that could help you to achieve that goal. Then every day, for 100 days, you do just one little thing. Just one little thing...
It sounds so easy but it takes a lot of willpower and gumption to continue. The magic of the 100 day time period is that it is a long enough time to really cement in a daily habit and it truly can make a difference to how you do things, how you live and how you can have a thriving business.
My first challenge had an easily measurable monetary goal. I had recently quit my full time (full pay) job as a secondary school teacher (Art, Art History and English) and I wanted my fashion business to make a live-able/workable amount of money. I wrote down 100 ways that I could increase sales targets and went at it full steam ahead.
Around day 40 I hit a wall - but not for reasons you might think. My monetary goal had been hit (Amazing! Who knew?!) BUT I was exhausted, hated my new job, was working too hard, stressing too much and had turned into some kind of yelly-screamy trousers that nobody wanted to live with. So success didn’t feel like I thought it would and that wasn’t something I was prepared for. What do you think success feels like? It's food for thought.
In order to move forward I had to tweak my goal (is money really my primary focus here?) and I spent the second part of that challenge establishing what I wanted out of life, what I loved in my business, what I didn’t love in my business and what steps I could take to make my life (and me) more balanced. I made some interesting decisions and brought the learning with me to the next 100 day challenge. Nothing was really lost. It's ok to re-evaluate.
In my second challenge my objective was to draw ‘something’ every day in order to increase my passive income and reduce my workload. It might have been an illustration for an art print, a textile design for my spoonflower shop, a design for a dress I would make in the future or a custom drawing (or writing) job for a client. I pushed myself to load a new art work to my society6 store or my spoonflower store every day too. Amazingly I managed to increase my passive income through art licensing, increase my joy (because drawing is what I do best and what I love most as it turns out) AND spend more time with my kids. So my second 100 day challenge was a particularly revealing one that was also a happy catalyst for turning around what I do. I decided to rebrand as ME and to stop focussing so much on my Outie fashion brand and consequently the rebranding journey so far has been quite a lot of fun!
How can you do something for 100 days? My best two tips for succeeding in these challenges is to keep a diary with all of your actions that you can tick off (head to the Business Bakery as Julia Bickerstaff has put together some amazing resources) and to share your goal openly with people. If people know what you are striving for then they can help you to stay on track, refer you to people who can help, push you along if you are getting slack and also help to nut out issues you might face along the way. Just this week I received a surprising referral which was a direct result of me telling someone in passing what I want out of life and out of my current challenge. I want to draw every day, design fabric and have fun with my family. Some people call it manifesting I think? It works anyway.
So now that I have realised that my love in owning a business is in the designing fabric and drawing part and not in the sewing or producing garments part, I am free to pursue another fun 100 day goal. As an added bonus I can now sew for myself again so this really is a win-win story.
And now to the third challenge. My goal is to make it EASY to work with me on a global scale. Every day I do something to make working with me easier. Today, for example, I went out of my comfort zone to record a Facebook live video to show the real me behind the scenes (complete with screaming kids - erp!). It was personally challenging for me, but it is always easier to work with someone if you feel like you know them. Right? So I am making it easier for people to get to know me. Yesterday I also followed up on getting a testimonial for a corporate branding job and the day before I followed up with a film company about doing some more storyboarding for them by simply introducing them to my new branding and website. Today (because some days you tick two things off! Woot!) I also made some product photo templates that show scale really easily so that I don’t have to field as many questions. “How big is an A4 print?” for example - well this picture tells you. See? One little thing every day...
NOW to the cool bit. After all of these successful challenges I thought it would be good to publish a list of 100 actions in case you want to do one yourself. Part of my challenge this time around is getting my head around my etsy store, so I have spent hours (read one article a day and it isn't so daunting plus I'm used to truncating information from my years spent as a teacher) trawling the internet and taking notes and I have come up with a quick list summary of things you can do to do better business online. These tips are tweaked for me for my new/old/new etsy shop (i opened it in 2012 and forgot about it. Woops!) but you can apply these actions to any online selling platform. These are universal business branding and marketing tips.
Please note that this is an action TO DO list, not a list of things that I have done and I am happily starting at the bottom with my etsy store with barely any sales and only TWO followers. (It was a brave decision moving away from my previous online shop and starting again!) It’s an interesting starting point to record in the rebranding process and I am happy to share the journey.
One key tip that has resonated with me from my reading is that if you treat a shop like a hobby, you will only ever get hobby money. If you treat it like a business, then well may you reap the rewards.
100 little things to do to tweak your online business in 100 days
(An etsy-inspired action list)
- Make sure your photos are crisp and gasp-worthy (this could take a while but you might do two photos every day to make it easier).
- Personalise your banner
- Add personality to your product descriptions
- Add a story to a product
- Describe the invisible feel good factor in product descriptions
- Add a back story about why you made your product
- Include a testimonial as an image
- Add a quoted testimonial to your product description
- Create your own hashtag for social media sharing
- Ask previous customers for testimonials to publish
- Write down ten adjectives to describe your product and use a thesaurus to find the top three
- Post a link to social media and ask for a public critique of a product
- Add a call to action on your about page.
- Add a link to sign up to your newsletter.
- Encourage interaction on your shop by asking a question and asking people to leave comments
- Photograph an added incentive to buy in product photos (i.e. free sticker or gift)
- Make a freebie gift
- Approach a blogger about reviewing your product.
- Write a Press Release about you and your products.
- Write a blog about your back story.
- Write a blog about a featured item.
- Write a blog about another favourite item that your product would go with (collaborate?)
- Make a gift guide.
- Write a newsletter content plan.
- Share a fail.
- Share a win.
- Get a nice head shot taken to use in your About page.
- Make a list of google keywords.
- Tweak all keywords.
- Make sure all 14 tags are used on each product listing.
- Shuffle photos so that each product photo sequence tells a logical story.
- Include a product in use shot.
- Add a human element to a product photo (I did this today!)
- Write a response to a style blog.
- Write a commentary on a treasury.
- Check that each product has size dimensions clearly published.
- Check that tactility of products is accounted for in photographs.
- Check that all sensory experiences of the product are included (if applicable - noone needs to know what a pencil tastes like...)
- Add a banner link to social media.
- Cross promote your products across social media.
- Host a featured product week on Facebook or Instagram (or other).
- Write about your product on google plus.
- Add a joke listing as a lure to other listings (I made that one up. I didn’t read that one anywhere but I think it could be fun to try).
- Blog about why you started business.
- Blog about your professional training.
- Blog about why you are the best at what you do.
- Write about why your product is better than others.
- Ask social media followers to post their favourite listing from your shop.
- Host a competition on social media with screenshots needed from your store to enter.
- Post a discount code in time for a holiday or seasonal celebration.
- Add a combo deal to your listings.
- Check that your lighting is consistent in all photos.
- Remove watermarks and replace with branded inclusions (i.e business card or sticker on packaging) so that products are more easily shareable across several media platforms including treasuries and blogs.
- Decide on a dominant colour and two secondary ‘supporting’ colours and keep your branding look consistent.
- Describe your ideal customer and draw them.
- Name your ideal customer and write three targeted things you could use to market to them.
- Write a letter to your ideal customer and publish as a blog.
- Release a new tweaked edition of an existing popular product.
- Add a download option of a product.
- Add a new way of using your product.
- Feature a customer on your blog.
- Host a monthly spot-prize for top customers.
- Write a blog about why your customers return - tell their stories.
- Check that colours are consistent across photographs (and branding)
- Curate your own treasury.
- Write your own editorial or style guide.
- Send someone a freebie just because.
- Add back-links to products and cross-link products
- Edit product descriptions to make sure they are short and sweet/concise and compelling
- Connect your shop to a social media account so that all new posts auto-post
- Write a newsletter highlighting what’s new
- Publish social media stats (for me this is important to add clout and trust to my brand because my etsy presence looks so lame by contrast to my other online outlets).
- Use photo carousel in about section to highlight the person and the real life behind the product
- Create a styling template to keep photography consistent
- Personalise your shop icon and make sure it can be rescaled and still be easily read or recognised
- Change your banner for an occasion
- Add a shop video
- Make a live video on FB
- Add a macro shot to product photographs.
- Use video to show macro shots of work
- Add keywords to product listings and blogs about products
- Join the etsy success team
- Participate in a forum
- Join in a group of etsy sellers
- Make a large cover photo for your shop or landing page
- Record a marketing strategy
- Create four measurable goals (this month, this challenge, this year, in three years)
- Write down the key purpose of your online shop or etsy store.
- Photograph your product in a flat lay
- Create a product in response to a specific theme or trend
- Analyse successful stores and make notes on how you could apply a successful technique to your own shop (Do not do the same! No copying allowed!)
- Add another habit to an already existing habit (called habit stacking). I.e. Reach out to one new customer every day as you drink your morning coffee or before you go to bed.
- Subscribe to a style blog.
- Read the etsy sellers guide.
- Make a record of tips and things to do one day when you have more time (success signals)
- Use something that is yours in the background of your photos (I could use my wallpaper!)
- Ask for a visual edit from a friend - what doesn’t look right in my shop? Check for visual cohesion.
- Add a couple of different buying options to a product.
- Add a memorable detail to your packaging and include it in a photograph.
- Add something fresh to your range to ensure you are keeping the shop (and your interest in it) alive.
Phew! That’s a lot isn’t it? But one thing every day is manageable AND achievable. It may take a bit longer but who cares? All of these little things will definitely all add up and push you further along on the right path if not to your end goal.
Did you find this helpful? Yay! Which action do you think you will do first? Leave a comment and tell me!
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Thanks for reading!
Artist, Illustrator, Ex-teacher and Writer - doing what she loves daily.