WooCommerce in a Week

Today I’m releasing something that has been in the works for the last two months. Ever since I started my shop and saw the questions other people were asking about WooCommerce, I knew I had to do something. This is why I’m bringing this free email course to you. Yes, FREE. You heard that right. This 7-day long course is delivered directly to your mailbox each day for a week.

I wanted to give something back.

I saw a lot of people struggling with WooCommerce ever since I started my solopreneur journey. And it really is a steep learning curve that might seem pretty daunting when first starting out. There are so many things you have to think about when setting up your WooCommerce store. Getting all of the pages to work, setting up taxes, and getting your products online.

This is why I have decided to create WooCommerce in a Week.

The course is about giving you an insight into what WooCommerce is and what you have to do to get started with this ecommerce plugin that is by far the biggest one out for WordPress right now.

What is going to be part of this course?

Once you sign up, you will get a welcome email which will include (among other things) a list about what we’re going to look at each day of the email course.

  • Day 1 : Meet the Woo Ninja and become part of the tribe
  • Day 2: Settings and taxes are the only certainties in WooCommerce
  • Day 3: Getting familiar with pages
  • Day 4: Your first product
  • Day 5: Bundled products?!
  • Day 6: Hardcore shipping
  • Day 7: Go, get selling!

If you really want to get started with WooCommerce and take the step towards your own online shop, this course is really going to help you not be overwhelmed by the multitude of choices within WooCommerce.

So just sign up below and get the awesomeness directly into your inbox.

Weekly Recap

The last week of October has been all kinds of overwhelming (seriously, where did that last week go?) but it has been a good kind of overwhelming. There will be something coming your way next Friday that I’m really excited about. I’ll give you more info tomorrow! But enough about me. How was the last week of October for you? Did you prepare for the Christmas rush starting? Let me know in the comments!

This week’s blog love goes to:

So You Want to Sell on WordPress

If you’re a creative entrepreneur, you are probably selling items on market places like Etsy, Handmade @ Amazon, or eBay. However, you know what they say, right? Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. There is a reason why people tell you that and you just need to go into the Etsy forum to see why it is a good idea. There are always people complaining about not getting any sales on Etsy. But they stick with it because they are afraid of creating their own website and selling their product from there.

I can totally understand that.

WordPress can be daunting – especially if you want to turn your website into an eCommerce platform. Add WooCommerce (the plugin that I want to talk about today) and a lot of people are very confused and would rather stay on their market place. But diversifying your sales channels can be good and you can get exposed to a wider audience. On Etsy, you always have to fear that your customer will be directed to another shop. That doesn’t happen on your own site because you control your site. You control where your customer is going and what happens when they purchase something.

This is why I want to take a closer look at WooCommerce today and tell you what the big deal about this plugin really is. Ready? Ready.

WooCommerce is one of the biggest eCommerce plugins available for WordPress and, just like WordPress itself, it is open source. This means anyone can access the code of the plugin and work with it – you could create your own extensions for example. WooThemes, the team behind WooCommerce, also offers several extensions for the plugin (most of these extensions need to be bought, however).

So what are some of the pros and cons of WooCommerce? Let’s take a closer look at the pros first and then at the cons.

Pro No. 1: WooCommerce is part of Automattic

Though this might not seem like such a big deal at first glance, believe me it is. Automattic is the company of Matt Mullenweg who is the founder of WordPress. Automattic is also the company behind WordPress.com, Akismet, Jetpack, and Gravatar to name a few. Back in May this year, Automattic and WooThemes announced that Mullenweg’s company had acquired WooCommerce. So why does this matter? It matters because it means that WooCommerce will always be up to date and that there will be continual support. Not that WooThemes wouldn’t have provided that, but now WordPress has a lot invested in this plugin and that means more stability for you!

Pro No. 2: You Can Sell Physical and Digital Items

Most eCommerce plugins and platforms usually focus on one or the other. Not so WooCommerce. The plugin allows you to have both physical and digital items in your shop. Personally, I think this is a great aspect to consider if you want to sell art prints for example as well as downloadable prints. Never underestimate what your customers might want. WooCommerce gives you the means to expand your business at all times.

Pro No. 3: Lots of Extensions and Integrations

This is along the same vein as the previous point. You can literally do so much with WooCommerce! There are hardly any boundaries. WooThemes offers so many useful extensions and there even more free extensions in the WordPress Plugin Repository. This wealth of information and availability of extensions and integrations is amazing (check out the Taxamo integration if you are selling digital downloads internationally!).

Pro No. 4: WooCommerce Works with Every Theme

Yup. The coding behind WooCommerce is so great that it works with pretty much every theme. If you have a theme that is up to the WordPress coding standards, you will have no problem installing this plugin and you don’t need to fear that it will break your website. I think this is one of the most amazing things about WooCommerce. You can just download it and use it if you want to. No further action regarding code is needed.

Con No. 1: A Big Learning Curve

Because WooCommerce is packed with so many awesome features, it is easy to get overwhelmed by this plugin. I have heard from so many people that they gave up on WooCommerce because it was just too much for them to handle. I can totally understand that. However, I would encourage anyone who is getting overwhelmed by WooCommerce to give it another try. It will really help you make your own shop a reality.

Con No. 2: Maybe You Don’t Like the Styles WooCommerce Comes Equipped with

For some people, this might really be a turning point. They might not like the look of the way WooCommerce is styled and thus decide against using it. It doesn’t fit with their branding or it makes the website look weird. Whatever the reason is, there is a remedy. There are a lot of premium themes which have been styled with WooCommerce in mind and which will look great with the plugin.

As you can probably tell, I’m a huge fan of WooCommerce and I really hope that you will be too. If you have tried it and given up again, I hope this list will make you reconsider and give it another try. If you have been too scared to make the jump, just know there are a lot of people who will be able to help you with this plugin. Lastly, let me know in the comments what your experiences with WooCommerce are! I’d love to hear them as I am working on a free email course about WooCommerce!

Image credit: @DeathtotheStock

Weekly Recap

Can you believe that there’s not even a week left in October? Where did the rest of the month go? This week has been absolutely crazy and some things in my offline life have kept from being present on my blog the way I wanted to this week. But I am fresh and ready to get back into it next week! Are there any things that you wanted to accomplish this week but didn’t get to? Let me know in the comments!

This week’s blog love goes out to:

The Value of Knowing Your Audience + How It Changed My Business by Intentionally Designed

Finding Your Edge by Kayla Hollatz

How I Stopped Freaking out about Money as a Solopreneur by Jen Carrington

The Freelance Life No. 51 | Stress by CoCorrina

4 Years in Business: How Long It Took to Grow Traffic, Subscribers, and Revenue by Sarah Morgan

4 Tips for Planning Your Blog

Last week, I wrote about how I write my blog posts and how I would perfect them for my blog. But, of course, you don’t create blog posts in a vacuum. Once you make this decision to take blogging seriously and treat it like a business, you need to think about a few things regarding your blog and where you want to take it. This is where your plan comes in and here are a couple of things that you need to consider when you create your blog plan.

1 | How Often Do You Want to Post?

Seriously. The moment I decided on this point, planning for my blog became so much easier. It gives you structure and forms the bases of your blog. Right now, I’m releasing 3 posts a week plus a weekly recap post linking to my favorite blog posts of the week. This works for me and my schedule. Usually, I plan to release a blog post on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the recap on Sundays. This doesn’t always work out, but I am sticking to the 3 posts a week.

Action → Choose a schedule

It might seem pretty obvious to take this step, but I think a lot of people are overlooking it and then fall into this trap of not following their schedule and neglecting their blog. It really is a crucial step and should be one of the first things you think about when starting to blog. Consistency is key.

2 | What Are Themes within Your Niche?

This one is pretty much a continuation of step number one and the overall theme of your blog. In most cases, you’ll have an idea of what you want to share with people before you start a blog. So, if you want to give your blog schedule a bit more structure, you could assign different days to different topics. Say, you are a beauty, fashion, and lifestyle blogger. You could publish posts on beauty products on Mondays, fashion posts on Wednesdays, and, on Fridays, you could let people know about the latest lifestyle trends.

Action → Refine your schedule

This is really a step that depends on you as a blogger and a person. Some people need this defined structure and some don’t. But it definitely helps if you want to maintain a balance on your blog about the different topics you are writing about.

3 | Did you write it all down?

So far, we have only thought about the plan for our blog. It’s all in our mind. One thing that we should do, then, to not forget what we have planned is to write it all down. You can do this in your planner or in a spreadsheet – whatever works best for you. You could even just create a small list with the dates and the topics you want to discuss.

Action → Make yourself accountable

That is really what this step is about. Writing it down and putting it somewhere you can’t ignore it will make you remember your blogging schedule. You are making yourself accountable to yourself and your business. If you want to take it a step further, you could even publish your schedule online.

4 | What about collateral?

This is pretty much everything that you need to do besides the actual writing of the posts. I like to use simple check marks for this. So what are some of these collateral things? For one, I have a spot for revisions – have I done them? Then I can check them off. The same thing goes for the graphics for blog posts. I simply check them when I am done with them and have all of these items on one line in my spreadsheet. It makes it easy to see everything at one glance.

Action → Expand your plan to incorporate collateral

For organizational purposes, you should really consider adding boxes to your plan. That way you won’t forget to actually create the graphics for your blog or whether or not you have shared it already on social media.

What all of these tips are really about is to organize yourself. Without organization, you will soon run into problems with taking your blog from hobby to business. So why not start early and make the planning of your blog part of your routine?

Weekly Recap

This week has been filled with lots and lots of reading whether it be awesome blog posts like the ones below or plays and novels my classes and teaching. I’d like to think that reading a lot now will keep me on top of things, but, once grading starts in a week, I know that I’ll probably fall behind. But the farther I get ahead now, the more I’ll be able to relax in the weeks to come. At least that’s the plan. In the mean time, however, I will go on reading amazing posts helping me with my business and which are written by people far more awesome than I am. Read a few of those right here:

So You Want to Get Booked out in Advance? Here’s What I’ve Learned by Jenn Carrington

6 Things I Did to Try and Build My Business that Didn’t Work at All by XO Sarah

September 2015: Un-Income Report by Monique

The Glaring Issue with Social Media for Business by Elle & Co

5 Reasons for Business Owners to Use Periscope Now… And How to Use It by Taku Kumabe

3 Tips to Increase Your Social Media Presence

Increasing your social media presence can be difficult sometimes. You don’t just want random followers but rather followers that are a part of your target audience. That much seems obvious, doesn’t it? When you’re an introvert, connecting with your target audience might seem even more daunting than it does for everyone else. Having to put yourself out there can be extremely nerve wracking. I know I always have these nagging thoughts at the back of my mind when I post on social media and get no response. This is why I’ve decided to share three tips to increase your social media presence.

Tip No. 1: Slow Growth Is Not Bad

This is the one thing I always need to remind myself of. It is not the end of the world if I don’t gain hundreds of followers in one week or even one month. It really isn’t. And even if it might seem that way, it is no reason to just give up. Slow growth on your social media channels can actually be helpful as it can show you things you might have to work on. Maybe you need to rethink that hashtags you are using on Twitter and Instagram so that you can actually reach your target audience.

In any case, slow, organic growth of your social media presence is always better than getting hundreds of followers who are not your target market and will not bring you any sales. This is why buying followers doesn’t work and you should always keep it at the back of your mind. Slow can be beautiful and I think it makes work also easier.

Tip No. 2: Talk to People You’ve Been Following a Long Time

Okay, so this one is a bit more difficult if you’re an introvert and maybe a bit anxious. But it can be done. It might seem terrifying to just talk to people without really knowing them and what their reaction might be. However, if you have been following this person for a while and seen how the are on social media, you probably have a pretty good idea of what they will do when you talk to them.

And this can be as easy as just commenting on their pictures or posts about how much you love their advice or the picture. Seriously. People love it when you comment on their social media posts and it’s really the first step to getting to know someone. You can find things you have in common with that person and you might strike up a real friendship. Doing this with people you have been following for a while usually takes away the anxiety because it can feel like you already know the person in a way.

Tip No. 3: Post Content Relevant to Your Niche, But Show that You’re Human Too

Sometimes I think, ‘Oh, this is so trivial. No one will want to see me post this on Twitter.’ But then I have to push that thought aside. Simply posting links to your blog and work can be enough, but it can also make you look like a machine and not a real human being who’s behind the screen. I, personally, love it when I can see someone’s personality in their social media strategy. If you seem like a person, you are a hundred times more approachable on social media.

When you’re using apps to schedule your social media posts (like Buffer or CoSchedule), hop on every now and then and strike up a conversation with people. I know I need to follow my own advice more and it is terrifying to put yourself out there. But I also think that there is no easier advertisement for your business than using social media.

These are just three tips to increase your presence on social media. The key is to actually be social and connect with people. You gain followers and you are, in most cases, exposed to the other person’s following as well.

What are some of your strategies and tips to increase your social media presence? Let me know in the comments!

Image credit: @DeathtotheStock

The Way to the Perfect Blog Post (Plus a Free Worksheet)

You have an awesome idea for a blog post. It’s the most epic title you have ever come up with. But beyond that? Nothing. Or you know you want to make a post for a specific category on your blog, but you don’t know what exactly it is you want to write about. Believe me, I’ve been there – and every other blogger probably too. This is why I want to talk about my creation process for blog posts today.

1 | From Idea to Paper

Yup. I use good, old-fashioned pen and paper to write down the ideas I have for my blog posts. Most of the time it’s just the title of the blog post, but, once I’ve written it down, I know that I will remember it and can work with it. This is something that I also tell my students when they’re sitting in lecture. Write things down by hand. I know it’s tempting to bring in your laptop, but you retain more information if you write things down with a pen. And just imagine losing your epic idea for a blog post! Always carry a notebook or binder with you to jot down ideas as they strike.

Writing ideas down on paper is also a good visualization of what you want to convey. You know this feeling when you have the best idea ever? The title sounds perfect in your head? Make sure it also sounds perfect when it’s actually written down and people are reading it. And don’t be afraid to scrap things. That was one of the things I learned in college: If you’re in love with one sentence in your paper, scrap it because it will hold you back from making your whole text perfect.

2 | Bring in the Categories

If you already have a blog with specific categories, it’s time to think about in which category you want to place your blog post. Maybe you could even do a ranking of the categories your blog post would fit in. In any case, you have to decide where it would fit best. What are some popular categories on your blog? Which ones drive the traffic? Is your blog post something that your audience would be interested in reading or is it something completely outside of your scope? These are things you need to think about when you look at all the blog titles/ideas you have come up with above – and prioritize them by that ranking. If you want to make money off of your blog, you need to write for your audience and figure out what they would like you to talk about.

If you do not already have a blog with categories or you’re just starting out, you need to figure out who your ideal audience is. Who is it you want to reach with your blog? Do you want to make money with your blogging and maybe even take it full time at some point? Consider all of these things and structure the categories of your blog around them. These categories are a part of your brand strategy and you need to put some thought into them.

3 | Flesh out Your Ideas

Okay, so by now, we have a killer title (but remember, this might change once you’re done with your blog post) and the category we would like the post to go into (this might also change depending on what you come up with in this part). Now it’s time to flesh out those ideas and give them life. You can really do this any way you want and in a way that works best for you. Some people might like mind maps, while others prefer simple lists of points to talk about in their post. Something that I would advise again, however, is to do it with pen and paper. It’s all about retaining that information and who knows? Maybe you’ll figure out a whole series of blog posts that way!

At this stage, you need to make sure that you have enough talking points to fill a whole blog post (or maybe you could do a miniseries with very short posts – whatever works best for your blog!). That’s when I like to come up with and choose at least three talking points from the list or mind map you have created (I love breaking things up into smaller portions – it makes things easier for your readers). And then you do the same thing again with the single points. Flesh them out and give them substance.

Think of it as a very elaborate outline for your blog post. If you have it written down, you can put it next to you while you’re writing and never lose track of what you are trying to convey in your post. It’s really helpful to keep your mind on track and give your readers the most valuable content as it is at this stage that you also realize whether a blog post can actually work or if you just had an amazing title idea but hardly anything to back it up with.

4 | Actually Writing the Post

Yes, we can’t forget about the most important part after all of this work, can we? Finally, you can go to your computer and let the awesomeness seep from your mind onto the screen. Keep your worksheet next to you as a reminder of all of your talking points and just get to writing. It doesn’t have to be perfect on the first try because you should definitely check the copy afterwards for grammar and spelling mistakes. But you can also go do some more in-depth revisions later on.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and get to work on the most important part of your blog post. The content. It’s true that the title and the graphics (we’ll talk about this in the next point) are a large factor in drawing in traffic, especially considering the use of social media, but, if your content is not up to par with the presentation, you have a problem. If you don’t give your readers the kind of value they expect from the title or graphic, then they’re not going to be repeat readers and that is your ultimate goal – have people come back for more because you have established yourself as an expert.

5 | Graphics for Your Post

So you have written your blog post by now. But that’s really only half the work, isn’t it? Your presentation and your content need to be on one level. There is no point in writing the most epic blog post when no one is actually looking at your content because they are not pulled in. This is where graphics come into play. Try to find a style for your blog graphic and try to stick with it (as you can see, I’m not really following my own advice yet because I’m still trying to decide between images and simple text-based graphics). Especially if you want to use social media like Twitter or Pinterest, you should put effort into your blog graphics.

Think about the main points of your blog post and try to find stock images that represent those points. You want to draw a connection between the images you are using and the words you have written. In combination, these things will be the force that drives your traffic. This is why you cannot neglect either the graphics or the content – if you only focus on one or the other, you will not retain your reader. Now you can hit publish.

6 | Social Media

Now, you should have a complete blog post including graphics and everything you need to reel your reader in. But you need to let your readers know that you have a blog post up, right? Try to come up with a plan of when you want to share this blog post and on which platform. Maybe you already have a system in place – something along the lines of, I only share my own blog posts on Mondays or Fridays. Whatever your system is, you need to incorporate your blog post into this system now. Come up with great Twitter copy and share your post with your followers; the graphics should take care of Pinterest; together the content and the graphics help you on Facebook and Tumblr.

7 | The Finish Line

You made it! You wrote an awesome blog post and shared your epic content with the world. Keep on promoting your content and make sure that you are visible to your readers. Without the readers, your blog will start to feel like it’s lacking something. So share it with your friends and your followers and let them know that you have put this out there! And remember to get your own free blog post worksheet!

Image credit: @DeathtotheStock

A Look at Rebranding

As you can see, Preschiato Design has gotten a makeover yesterday. It might seem a bit soon because I just released a new logo at the end of September. But after careful consideration, I found that the logo that I had come up with didn’t really fit with the rest of my branding concept for Preschiato Design.

Why the rebrand in the first place, though?

Honestly? I want to take my business to the next level and a consistent brand is the way to accomplish this. I started thinking about the people I wanted to reach. I finally realized, in my web presence, who I actually wanted to attract to my brand. I want to help creative entrepreneurs, small business owners, and bloggers show their brand and their personality in their web presence.

That’s the thing, though, isn’t it?

I didn’t need to give up my personality. But I couldn’t only focus on me if I wanted my business to thrive. If you want to attract clients and customers, you need to build your brand with the intention of attracting them. And that is what I did. I started with a complete rebrand and revamped my website and my business yesterday.

So what did I do?

I started off with creating a branding board for Preschiato Design. The first thing that I did was decide on a color palette. Before actually thinking about my brand, I probably wouldn’t have chosen the colors that I have. But I couldn’t be happier now that I can see the final result and see how good my site actually looks.

Based on the color scheme that I had come up with, I started creating the logo in Illustrator. I knew I wanted something geometrical, timeless even and I think I did a really good job with the logo. It’s simple and clean and reflects the main colors of my brand. At first, I had thought of creating the type for my business name in Illustrator as well. However, I decided against this and simple kept the imagery in geometrical shapes, while I chose one of my fonts for the business name.

That was the step that followed the initial process. I decided on two fonts which I wanted to use for all of my branding as well as on my website. I am absolutely in love with both Josefin Sans and Lato and I couldn’t be happier with the way these two fonts work together on the website.

The following step was determined by what kind of patterns I would like to see in my branding and, even though, the patterns did not actually find their way into the design of my website, I think they’re important to consider, because they give you a certain kind of feeling for the brand.

As a last step, then, I put my mission statement into words. This step was crucial to the way I developed my site because it didn’t let me forget the ultimate goal behind my website. This is the one step that no one can do for you. Even if you outsource your brand design, you need to be the one to come up with your mission statement and what you can offer to the world.

Take a Look at the Brand Board I Created for Preschiato Design

Preschiato Brand Board

The brand board reflects everything that I came up with while rebranding Preschiato Design and it offers everything I need to know for my branding at one glance. This is what you should aim for when creating a brand board – cohesiveness and simplicity – so that you don’t need to worry about what colors or fonts you need to use to be consistent with your brand.

 

What the rebranding has taught me

I think there won’t ever be a time in which I am completely happy with every little detail of my brand and I’m sure there a lot of business owners just like me. There is always something that you can tweak or change. But I’d urge you to be careful with too many tweaks. Let your brand breathe before you crush it again. Stick with your brand and people will thank you for it.

What do you think about rebranding? Have you done a rebranding in the past? What were your experiences? Let me know in the comments!

Weekly Recap

This week has really been amazing and I’m a little proud of myself that I’m still ahead in all of my reading for school (though I fear that that will change soon) and I’ve done some good background work for my business. There are a couple of projects I have in the early planning stages that I’m really, really excited about and can’t wait to share with you guys. (If you join my mailing list, you’ll be the first to get more information about these projects!)

Another thing I really like about this week is that I have been able to catch so many amazing scopes by some awesome business ladies. I am addicted to Periscope and, if you don’t have an account yet, definitely get one. You absolutely need to follow Regina from byRegina.com, Kayla Hollatz from kaylahollatz.com, and all these other business ladies. They have so many tips and tricks to help you with your business. It’s amazing

Well, this week’s blog love goes to the following posts: