How to Make the Most of Your Weekends to Grow Your Side Business

Building your business on the side is not easy. You come home after a long day of work, you spend the little time you have with your family and friends, and you try to jam in a productive session, working on your side business before going to bed.

Your weekends allow you to get much more done in much larger chunks. They’re usually where you’re most capable of growing your business or having the most impact on your business when you’re working a day job.

However, are you making the most of your weekends? How often do you find yourself distracted or making excuses when you’re not getting enough done? How should you structure your weekends? What does a weekend, optimized for productivity and growing a business, look like?

I’m going to answer these questions and share what has worked for me, and continues to work for me. Additionally, I’m going to share my action plan, exactly how I structure my weekends, and what I do every weekend that has helped me grow my side business and maintain a great work/work balance.

Switch Up Your Frame

The first thing you need to consider is how do you think of your weekends.

What you do during the week should set you up to get more done on the weekend. Don’t use your weekends to support the stuff you do during the week, instead, whenever you come home from your day job and begin working on your business, make sure it supports what you plan to do over your weekend.

For example, if you’re planning to tackle your website’s design over the weekend then choose templates, design logos, draw layout ideas  and write copy throughout the week. That way, when the weekend rolls around, you can focus on the most important task – getting the website up.

Making Your Weekdays Support Your Weekend

Whenever you think up a task or project, but can’t make time for it during the week, David Allen, author of Getting Things Done suggests you add it to a “next actions” list instead of a “to-do” list. Throwing items into a to-do list is non-actionable. If you set an ordered list, of the next things you need to do for your business, it will require and encourage you to make quick decisions.

Think up a great, actionable idea for your business?  Put it in your “next actions” list. Come up with a new marketing idea that will take several hours to implement? Put it in your “next actions list.”

At the end of the week, organize these ideas, tasks, and projects into timeslots throughout your weekends, then pull each task from your next actions list and move  it into your calendar for the weekend. (More on this in the next section)

Now let’s get into what a typical weekend looks like for me, and how you should consider structuring yours to get more done.

How to Structure Your Weekend

Friday

While you won’t have as much time on Fridays to get as much done as you can on Saturday or Sunday, it’s a good time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished throughout the week and what you plan to do over your weekend

Reflect

It’s good to sit down for five minutes, before planning out your weekend, to reinforce what has (or hasn’t) been working for you.

Not taking the time to see where you went right and wrong can stunt your growth as an entrepreneur.Your business only grows when you do. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • What were my top wins this past week?
  • What didn’t I get done?
  • Where did I waste time this past week?
  • What was the best part of my week?

You can answer these questions out loud or write them down in a journal or private document (like Google Docs or Evernote).

Plan of Attack

Now it’s time to schedule your weekend. Set blocks of time for each task and get your priorities in check.

Your weekend should be flexible. Things happen and you can’t always stick to your schedule. However, don’t use that as an excuse to procrastinate. Stay flexible for when “life” happens, but don’t stay flexible just because Game of Thrones or your favorite TV show might be on.

Before planning out your weekend,  ask yourself a few questions to get a better perspective on what needs to get done:

  • What must I get done no matter what this weekend?
  • Are there any potential distractions or commitments this weekend that I will need to account for?

Now it’s time to plan your weekend for success.

First, if you don’t know what you should be doing, use the Pareto Principle. Look at the 20% of things you’ve been doing for your business that have yielded 80% of your results.

Next, use a tool like Trello or even Google Calendar to set your schedule for the next two days. Pull the tasks you put off from your “next actions” list and start to schedule them into your weekend. If the task can be done in five minutes or less, do it immediately (yes, while you’re still scheduling your tasks) instead of putting it off for the weekend.

In the next section, I’ll talk about what your Saturday and Sunday might look like to help you figure out how to make the most of your weekend.

Here’s an example of what my Trello board, “Weekly To-Do”, looks like:

Generally, you’ll want to tackle the most difficult or time-consuming tasks first. If you don’t think you’ll be able to complete all your tasks for the day, do the most important things first. The most important task is up to your discretion, but generally, if it has a looming deadline or will make the most immediate impact on your business, it’s the most important task.

Saturday

Let’s carry over that excitement and momentum from Friday’s reflection and planning, and begin to tackle the most important tasks on Saturday.

“Airplane Mode” Saturdays

So, because you hopefully have scheduled the most important or difficult task first, that’s where you’ll be spending most of your Saturday. It’s also likely to be your most time-consuming task, which is why it’s also important to get it out of the way as quickly as possible.

The key to getting more done on the weekends is focus. Sounds simple, right?

On paper, sure, but in reality, there are a lot of distractions and excuses to keep you distracted.

My Saturdays are usually the most productive day of my weekends. I like to put myself into “Airplane Mode”. Much like how your phone’s Airplane Mode which disables all of your phone’s connectivity to the internet, I do the same thing by cutting myself off from distractions.

Though it’s unlikely you’ll be able to get much done without the internet there are tools you can use to help keep you from wandering off and browsing Facebook, while staying connected to the internet.

These are the Chrome extensions I use to put myself in “Airplane Mode” every Saturday.

  • StayFocused – Block out the sites that steal your time so that you can work on what matters.
  • RescueTime – Track all your time on the internet to later review where you waste the most time.
  • News Feed Eradicator – Sometimes, I can’t block Facebook using a tool like StayFocused because I use Facebook to manage my ads and pages. However, with News Feed Eradicator, my news feed goes from distraction filled mess to motivational or inspirational quote.
  • Momentum – This extension replaces your new tab screen with an inspirational photo and a reminder of your most important task for the day.
  • Simple Pomodoro – If you’re not familiar with The Pomodoro Technique, it helps you work in small intervals of 25 minutes of getting stuff done and a short 5 or 10 minute break. Instead of plowing through without taking a break, Simple Pomodoro is a timer that will alert you when it’s time to take a break and when it’s time to get back to work.

Sunday

I don’t like to lose the momentum I created on Friday and Saturday, however, even I understand that there are errands and things that need to be done on the weekend. That’s what Sunday’s for.

If I have time on Sunday, I will finish any other tasks, but if I can’t, I will add them back to my “next actions” list or simply schedule them for next weekend.

Schedule Content for the Week

Spend some time automating whatever you can for the following week. For example, every Sunday evening, I use Buffer to schedule all my social media posts until the following Sunday.

You can do this as well. Spend your Sunday evenings briefly scheduling out social media posts, planning out blog content, or scheduling emails to be sent to your email list.

Plan Your Week Ahead

I use Trello (you can use any scheduling tool you feel comfortable with) to plan out the week ahead. This way, I know exactly what I should (and need) to be working on when I get home from work. I’m not wasting time on deciding what to do or trying to figure out what to do next. I just come home and take action.

Set Goals

If you don’t already, I strongly suggest writing down and tracking weekly goals for yourself and your business. Some example goals you can set are:

  • I will easily launch my new ecommerce website by Saturday this week
  • I will easily go to the gym at least 3 times this week
  • I will easily get 10 sales to my store by Saturday this week
  • I will easily double my store’s weekly traffic, from 100 visitors to 200 visitors, by Saturday this week

 

Writing your goals down helps keep you accountable and brings you clarity. How do you really know what you want to accomplish in life and in your business if you’re not tracking it?

Prime Yourself for the Week Ahead

Stop dreading Mondays every Sunday night. Set the tone for an amazing week. Look forward to getting up early, tackling your morning routine and getting home after your 9-to-5 to work on your side business. Make your Sunday nights amazing!

Watch a few motivational videos on YouTube or an inspiring Ted Talk, read a Shopify success story, or learn something new before going to bed. You don’t have to over-stimulate yourself, just put yourself in the right mindset before going to bed.

Rinse and Repeat

Now it’s just a matter of repeating this process and becoming really good at adapting it. You won’t be perfect and won’t always have the most productive weekends – I know I don’t.

However, making an effort to work at it every weekend and putting in that work, even when it’s only for a few hours, can make all the difference. All of those efforts begin to add up over time and before you know it, you can have a full-time ecommerce empire on your hands.

What do you think? How do you, as a sidepreneur, manage to build your ecommerce empire on the side while working a 9-to-5? How will you make this upcoming weekend much more productive? Let me know in the comments below. I engage and respond with everyone.

12 Things You Can Do for Your Small Business While Watching Netflix

12 Things You Can Do for Your Small Business While Watching Netflix

Last weekend I watched an entire season of Friends in one sitting. Twenty-four episodes, back to back. Sitting upright for the first time in five hours, I couldn’t help but wonder where things had gone so terribly, terribly right.

I love binge viewing TV, and I’m not alone.

In a recent study conducted by TiVo, “92 percent of respondents reported binge viewing at some point, demonstrating that binge viewing is a new norm.” The average couch potato (like me) probably won’t lose much from an intense Friends marathon, but that level of downtime can seriously affect an entrepreneur’s productivity.

I’m a big advocate of avoiding streaming TV until you’ve done your work for the day, but it’s clear the allure of binge viewing is simply too powerful to ignore. With that in mind, I’m going to take a different approach and meet you halfway.

Here are 12 things you can do for your small business while watching Netflix.

Schedule and Automate Your Social Media

Schedule and Automate Your Social Media

You need to share great content in order to build an engaged audience on social media, but remembering to Tweet, share and post throughout the week can be tough. These simple automations can help you keep active (even when you’re not).

1. Schedule your social media posts with a tool like Buffer [30min-1hr]

Unless you’ve quit your day job and dedicated your life to managing a small business, you’re probably too busy to Tweet or share on Facebook regularly. Tools like Buffer can help you schedule your updates so they post automatically throughout the week.

2. Use IFTTT to post your Instagram photos as Twitter photos [5min]

Yes, you can already (sort of) do this by linking your Twitter account to your Instagram app, but those Tweets only show up as links, not full images. To make your Instagram photos truly stand out in your followers’ Twitter timelines, use this recipe in IFTTT. Check out our post about IFTTT to learn more.

3. Build a Tumblr page by re-posting your Instagram photos and likes with IFTTT [5 min]

Marketing with Tumblr is a lot like marketing with Instagram; you should wow people with your images and attract a loyal following who’ll not only purchase your products, but become evangelists for your brand.

These two recipes will help cross-post your Instagram posts, plus any Instagram photos you’ve liked, to your Tumblr account. You’ll probably be scrolling through Instagram anyway, so why not make it productive?

Improve Your Product Pages

Improve Your Product Pages

A great product page needs more than one line of copy and a decent smartphone photo. Sprucing up your images and product descriptions is a lot easier than you might expect. Here are a few ways to get started.

4. Learn how to write better product descriptions and re-write a few of your own [1-2hrs]

Remember, product descriptions are supposed to sell your product, not simply describe its characteristics. It’s easy to talk about a product’s colour or use, but dig a little deeper and figure out how it can really help your ideal buyer. Try re-writing a few in between episodes – your visitors will thank you for it.

5. Optimize your product images for SEO and faster loading [1-2hrs]

Since it can’t physically see the images we upload, Google relies on filenames and ALT tags to determine what they are. Go through your website images and start renaming your vaguely named images to something more relevant. Your ALT tags should match, too. Learn how to do this, and decrease your images’ file sizes, on our image optimization blog post.

6. Read up on, and apply, the key principles of psychological pricing [1hr]

Don’t worry – it sounds more complicated than it really is. We examined a few successful companies’ pricing strategies and discovered what makes them so effective. Once you learn what they’ve been doing, you can start applying those same principles to your own business. Give it a try!

Upgrade Your Online Store

Upgrade Your Online Store

There’s a lot you can do to freshen up your online store or add new, time-saving functionality to your backend. Knock out these three tips during your next Firefly binge to take your business to the next level.

7. Browse helpful plug-ins on the Shopify App Store [30min-1hr]

If you haven’t already gone through the Shopify App Store, now’s your chance. There’s no shortage of free apps designed to make your life easier as a business owner, so poke around and add a few to your store.

8. Get a professional domain name for your business [30min]

Shopify provides merchants with a free “yourstore.myshopify.com” domain, but you also have the option to buy and use your own. There’s a certain amount of credibility and professionalism that comes with your own .com address, so if yours is available, get it.

9. Create (or improve) your “About” page [1hr-2hr]

These days, customers want to know more about who they’re buying from, and it’s your job to tell them. Thankfully, it’s a pretty simple job (here’s some inspiration). 

Get a Quick Jolt of Inspiration

Get a Quick Jolt of Inspiration

Can’t find something to do? Get inspired by successful merchants, beautiful design, and the world’s most prominent business people. Keep those juices flowing!

10. Read the latest Shopify Success Stories [1hr]

Don’t think someone can truly succeed in your niche? Think again. Read a few Shopify Success Stories from entrepreneurs in your industry to pick up a few quick tips or helpful insight.

11. Get inspired by some of our best-looking stores [15min]

If you’re running your online store with Shopify, odds are that it already looks pretty darn good. However, there’s always room for improvement! Get inspired by our list of 30 beautiful and creative ecommerce website designs.

12. Get inspired by real business leaders [10min]

We compiled our 8 favorite customer service quotes from some of history’s most successful entrepreneurs. If these don’t get you off the couch, nothing will. 

Did I miss anything? Let me know how you make the most of your Netflix time in the comments section below.

How to Create a Press Kit That Gets Publicity for Your Business

Getting your business or product featured in a major publication or website can be huge. Imagine the largest publication in your industry or a local news affiliate giving you free press. Now imagine the kind of exposure and traffic this would bring to your business.

Besides the potential sales press can generate, getting mentioned on established websites allows you to borrow the trust of these publications and gives your website social proof by allowing you to place their logos on your website.

via jimmyCASE

How can business owners make it easy for websites, magazines and publishers to want to publish content talking about your business?

With a press kit.

What’s a Press Kit?

A press kit, also known as a media kit, is a page on your website that contains resources and information for reporters and publishers. A press kit makes it really easy for reporters to quickly learn about your product and brand, and access photos and marketing materials they can use in their content. You’re letting them know “hey, we love the press, here’s everything for you to put your story together as well as how to best reach us”.

FiftyThree’s press kit
via FiftyThree

A press kit isn’t strictly only for reporters or publications either. Anyone who wants to talk about or promote your business has the tools to make it easier for them. Whether that’s someone with a podcast, someone with a personal blog, or someone sharing your story in a community they are active in.

However, a press kit is not a way to guarantee press for your business, it’s a way to make getting press a little bit easier. When you’re networking and reaching out to publications, you will always have your press kit to refer to and direct reporters to. When you do most of the work for reporters up front, they’ll be more receptive to your pitch for press on their website or publication. Plus, it looks  professional and makes you more appealing to write about.

Besides directing reporters to your press kit page, your press kit page should be easily accessible on your website. You might not want to put a link to it in your main navigation, but it’s a good idea to include a “press”, “press kit” or “media kit” link in the footer of your website. Most reporters and publishers will know to look for it there as that is a common place for the press kit link.

via Holstee

What Makes A Good Press Kit?

What you put in your press kit will vary depending on your business and what you have to work with. There are a few essentials that I recommend as well as a few “nice to haves” if it is possible or available to put in your press kit.

Essentials

  • Your story: Share your story, how your business came to be and a little about yourself and why you’re doing what you’re doing.
  • Company facts: How many customers have you served? How long have you been in business? How many units have you sold? What year did your business start? Any other facts or figures that you can share with reporters? Where is your business located? Where is your product manufactured?
  • Large, high-resolution images of your logo and branding: Make it easy for content publishers to use your logo or create graphics using your logo by providing options. Provide high quality, high resolution graphics that also include a transparent background to make your graphics easy to use for nearly any purpose including print. If applicable, include a download to the raw, vector file.
via FiftyThree

  • People in your team: If there’s anyone else in your business besides yourself, share their story and their role and how they got involved in your business.
  • Samples of articles/press: Show reporters other articles and publications that you or your business has been featured in or talked about. These can be blog posts, interviews, magazine articles, press releases, and articles on other websites. This gives people interested in talking about your business on their website, something to work from.

Optional

  • Separate press/media email: A separate email address specifically for reporters, journalists or publications to contact you. For example “press@business.com”.
  • Name spelling/capitalization: If your business has unique spelling or capitalization, specify how you wish your brand name to be printed. For example, if you are CompanyName and not Company Name or companyname, make it clear!
  • Audio/video interviews/segments: If your business has been mentioned on a podcast, on the radio, or on a local news station, link to the clip or embed the media on your press kit page.
  • Awards/recognition: Share any awards or recognition your business has received.
  • Non-profit and volunteer involvement: Lastly, include any charities or non-profit work your business has been involved with.

Press Kit Examples

If you need some inspiration or need a better idea of how these press kit pages look and what they contain, check out some of these ecommerce businesses doing it right.

Get Press

It’s your turn now. When you’re considering putting together a press kit for your website, think about the websites and publications you want to be on and think about what you can put together in your press kit that will make it easier to get press there.

Remember that you still need to go out there and network and put yourself out there if you want to get press coverage for your business. A press kit only makes it easier for reporters to talk about you. You still need to do the work to make it happen.

Comment below and share your press kit pages if you already have one. If you don’t, comment below with your questions and I’ll be sure to help out. I engage and respond with everyone.

10 Inspiring Ecommerce Examples of Social Media Done Right (and How You Can Implement Them)

If you’re struggling to understand how to use social media for your ecommerce business in a way that grows your audience, keeps your audience engaged and drives sales and traffic back to your website, don’t fret.

Here are 10 inspiring examples of social media done right, across different popular platforms, by different ecommerce businesses. You can apply these examples immediately into your own social media plan of attack to help you achieve results such as growth and engagement.

For each example, I’m going to go over what the example is, why it’s effective (and what it helps that ecommerce business achieve) and how you can implement the example into your social media strategy.

1. Inspirational Quote By Ugmonk On Twitter

What It Is: This is a Twitter post by Ugmonk, a clothing and lifestyle brand, using an image post to share an inspirational quote from Steve Jobs, while tying in their branding and product into it.

Why It Works: According to Buffer, quotes get a 19% increase in retweets than other Tweets. Quotes are very “shareable”. Twitter users love them because they are short, sweet and effective.

Tying in a shareable and powerful Steve Jobs quote with their “Never Settle” t-shirt works because not only does it allow for their product to be seen through sharing, it comes across less as promotional content and more as inspirational content. The quote makes sense with the context of the product which is why it works.

How You Can Implement It: Tie in an inspirational, motivational, entertaining, educational or funny quotation with an image of your product. For a better effect, include a call to action and link back to your product or even superimpose the quote over an image of your product, with a link.

If you need help finding great quotes to use, check out Reddit for some ideas.

Be aware that these can become overused and abused, so it’s also a good idea to try and find lesser known quotes that speak directly to your brand values.

2. Motivational Images By Nike On Pinterest

What It Is: Nike is very active on Pinterest, they even have separate Pinterest accounts for different customer segments. For example, their Nike Women account targets their female athletes. Their “Motivation” board contains a lot of motivational quotes on branded images.

Why It Works: Pinterest is usually where most brands curate content but Nike creates original content just for Pinterest. 80% of Pinterest users are women according to Marketing Land, so creating a Pinterest account and boards specifically for women is a great example of understanding the user-base of the platform.

Motivational quotes are shared a lot, including on Pinterest. Nike uses their branding and products in their motivational quote images so that their content are their ads. This helps create brand awareness and bring more attention to their brand.

How You Can Implement It: Know and understand the user-base of the social media platforms you are using and cater to those. This article by PewResearchCenter breaks down the demographics of popular social media platforms.

Include motivational quotes with your logo or products if it makes sense for your brand. If it doesn’t, look at entertaining or humorous ways to do this.

Don’t be afraid to create different boards on Pinterest for the different audiences you’re trying to capture. If you have different products that attract different kinds of customers, create content on social media that can appeal to each segment. Better yet, learn how to make Pinterest drive traffic and sales to your website.

3. User-Generated Content By Ikea on Twitter

What It Is: IKEA’s Twitter post is sharing user-generated content that shows real customers creatively using IKEA products.

Why It Works: User generated content is excellent because it not only encourages engagement but it’s a lot less work to put together than creating your own content from scratch. It shows real customers using their products which serves as social proof. Your most passionate fans and customers get a chance to shine and it’s your opportunity to give back and say thanks by featuring them. When you recognize a customer, you gain a customer for life.

The image in this Tweet is great for Twitter as it creates separation from all the text posts on Twitter as well as showing a real example of a customer using IKEA products. Dan Zarrella, author of The Science of Marketing, found that Tweets containing images were 94% more likely to be retweeted.

Screen Shot 2015-05-12 at 10.32.02 AM.jpg

There’s also a great use of hashtags in this Tweet without it being overdone. Lastly there is one, clear, call to action “Check out…” with a link at the end of the Tweet.

How You Can Implement It: Ask your customers to send you pictures of themselves using your product and curate the best images into a blog post or collage image and send that out on social media. Show potential customers and fans other people people using your products in creative ways. To make it even easier, you can simply retweet or quote tweet any images you get from customers using your products in creative ways.

Use images in your Tweets to cut through the clutter. Instead of just a text Tweet or Tweet with a link to customers using your product, include an image in your Tweet.

The Shopify App Store also contains resources that make it really easy for you to embed photos of customers using your product on your website, such as embedding Instagram photos that use a specific hashtag on store pages.

4. Upcoming Looks By Gap On Vine & Instagram

What It Is: Gap created a short video with quick editing showing an upcoming spring line with models posing and wearing the clothing and accessories.

Why It Works: The quick cuts with different models showing different products fits with the type of content that creates buzz by “previewing” the upcoming line, and is among the more popular content types on Vine. It effectively shows off the new patterns for the new clothing line, without also being an obnoxious ad.

Another clothing company using short videos, Lululemon, saw their average likes on Instagram doublewhen they started using video on the platform according to SimplyMeasured.LululemonEngagement.png

Videos encourage interaction from your audience as well as keeping them engaged with your content. The call to action at the end of the description of Gap’s Vine, encouraging users to comment on which look they love, further helping increase their engagement.

How You Can Implement It: A video that previews an upcoming product or feature is a very effective method at creating buzz. Use Vine (or even Instagram video) to provide quick snapshots of your products, their features and even upcoming products to generate some buzz. Make it fun and fit in with your brand.

A call to action at the end, encouraging an answer to a question you pose like “Which look do you love?” is a great way to get more engagement.

You can use either Vine or Instagram to do this. Instagram might be a better choice if you already have a presence on Instagram or need a slightly longer video length, otherwise use Vine if you use Twitter, since Vine videos integrate natively on Twitter. It’s also worth noting that the demographics on both platforms are very different. As mentioned earlier, it’s important to understand and learn about the user-base of each platform before committing to one or the other (or both!).

5. Cheeky Self-Promotion By BeardBrand On Twitter

What It Is: Beardbrand sells beard oil for the urban beardsman and in this Tweet, they put together a long article describing why their beard oil is the best in the industry.

Why It Works: This is a no shame, humble brag with a little bit of cheekiness. Most brands take the serious approach when they try to sell “why we are the best” on social media. Beardbrand keeps it light with their admitted “100% biased review”. This helps humanize their brand on social media. Also, theproduct image used is simple but fantastic.

How You Can Implement It: Have fun and show personality when you are being self-promotional on social media, especially on Twitter. There’s a lot of noise on Twitter, separate yourself from everyone trying to promote their own products with some humor and really nice looking images.

Adjust your tone on Twitter, too, where you think it makes the most sense for your brand. This can be as simple as being genuine with humor. Instead of “Here’s why we’re great” change the tone and own it “We’re patting ourselves on the back, and were okay with it!”.

6. Video Content With A Lot Of Value By Lowes On Facebook

What It Is: Lowes created a short video providing their followers five inspiring ideas to improve the look of their bedroom, really quickly. This video is natively uploaded to Facebook and posted to their Facebook page.

Why It Works: Facebook rewards Page owners that upload their videos to Facebook with more organic reach, just look at the average recorded reach for each type of media, according to Socialbakers.

video-facebook-socialbakers-050315.jpg

Videos not only will get a larger organic reach but also better engagement.

The video also provides valuable and compelling content to their audience which acts as a silent movie that catches your attention while you are scrolling through your feed.

This captures the attention of their fans and keeps them engaged, especially if they consistently put out content like this (which they do). That way, when it is time to promote something on Facebook, it will be a lot easier since their Facebook fans haven’t been pounded with constant promotions. Their Facebook fans will be more receptive to promotional content since they’ve been receiving so much valuable and useful content previously.

This kind of content is also very shareable, which drives more people to Lowes’ Facebook page.

How You Can Implement It: Start creating video content and uploading it to your Facebook page instead of linking out to the video on your YouTube channel or Vine profile. Native videos will not only help boost that organic reach you’re already struggling with but also keep your fans engaged.

Ensure you’re adding value with your content, such as providing tips and ideas that relate to your niche or industry. You’re telling a story and you want to do it in a compelling way. You don’t want to make your Facebook page a bombardment of promotional posts. The key to is keep fans interested and engaged with great content first so that they are receptive to your promotional posts.

At the same time, you could also create a video and upload it to Facebook to create an effective promotional post, driving fans to a product page or your ecommerce website, when it’s time to finally promote something to your Facebook page.

7. Riding Hashtag Wave By Sephora On Twitter

What It Is: Sephora promotes their line of nail polish while #manipediday trends on Twitter.

Why It Works: Sephora took a trending hashtag and used it within the right context. This Twitter post not only gives the brand personality but also puts their product in front of more people. It’s a fun and subtle way to do self-promotion on social media.

How You Can Implement It: Keep an eye for the trends and trending hashtags and when one fits your business or you feel like you can capitalize on it, do it! To keep tabs on what’s trending on Twitter, try using one of these sites:

Remember that these hashtags are often started by influencers, celebrities or even other brands. This provides you the opportunity to participate in conversations with other people that might be interested in what you’re doing. This isn’t an opportunity to spam your brand.

The image posts are, again, much more effective than a simple text tweet for reasons mentioned in #5 in this blog post.

8. Simple But Effective Product CTA By Steam Horse On Facebook

What It Is: A Facebook post by Steam Horse Dry Goods Co. to their Facebook page with a simple and clear call to action to their henley shirts product page on their website.

Why It Works: Steam Horse Dry Goods Co.’s post has a clear call to action with an effective image of their product that they’re promoting. It’s to the point, only has one call to action and link, and the image clearly shows the variety and looks available for this product. This is an effective and simple way to promote a product on social media.

The link is also shortened using a link shortener like Bit.ly which not only makes the link look cleaner, it allows for them to track the amount of clicks the link in this particular post is getting.

How You Can Implement It: Make your next promotional social media post simple and to the point with a clear call to action. Tell people to check out your stuff, don’t just talk about your product and throw in a link at the end of it. Give them clear instructions like “check it out” or “shop here →”.

You can improve this by adding a call to action button, such as “Shop Now”, in the Facebook Power Editor.

9. Fun Way To Get Engagement By Bluff Works On Facebook

What It Is: Bluff Works asks their followers a fun question on Facebook and includes an image with their post.

Why It Works: Questions are an excellent way to encourage your fans and followers to engage with you. This works even better when you ask your audience creative questions that still involve your audience and brand. KISSmetrics found that posts with questions got 100% more engagement.

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To help separate from all the noise on Facebook and catch the attention of users, Bluff Works attached an image to their post.

How You Can Implement It: Ask your audience more questions. If you want more engagement and comments, this is what you need to start doing on social media. Here’s a chart courtesy of KISSmetrics to help you brainstorm and come up with great questions to ask to get your audience more engaged with your social media profiles.

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10. Promo + Content By Kurly Klips On Facebook

What It Is: Kurly Klips Extensions creates content on their YouTube channel educating fans and customers on different looks and styles as well as hair care. This Facebook post not only is promoting the content out to her fans, but it also mentions discounts for brides.

Why It Works: Kurly Klips has a YouTube channel where they create valuable content for their fans and customers to keep them engaged as well as keep them receptive to future promotions. This works well because they are promoting the discount which is packaged with content.

Instead of simply posting about the product or simply posting about a discount, they use Facebook to share valuable content that educates and helps their fans and customers, which also helps promote their product and the discount.

How You Can Implement It: Start creating really helpful or entertaining content like how-tos, instructionals and tips that can educate your audience in your niche so that they are more receptive to your products and discounts. This will keep fans of your Facebook page engaged if you put out consistent content like this.

If you don’t have a blog post but are still using video, upload the video to Facebook as mentioned in #6 to get a better reach. In this case, Kurly Klips links to a blog post which embeds the YouTube video from their channel, but if your content is just a video, upload it to Facebook.

Get creative with your discounts on social media. Create content around your promotions to leverage people sharing your useful content which extends helps spread the message on your promotion and discount.

Take Action

Now that I’ve shared ten awesome examples of social media done right, it’s your turn to steal one of these strategies and implement it into your social media marketing strategy.

As a free bonus, I’ve included another 5 awesome examples of social media done right by ecommerce businesses. Click the link below to download the PDF and see more fantastic examples of social media posts that you can steal.

You don’t need to apply them all, apply the one that makes the most sense for your ecommerce business and your brand. Stuck? Let me know in the comments below this post. Feel free to ask any questions regarding any of these examples or your social media strategy. If you know someone who really needs to step up their social media for their business, share this blog post with them.

6 Common Qualities of Successful Entrepreneurs (and How You Can Adopt Them)

6 Common Qualities of Successful Entrepreneurs

There’s no definitive formula for success. However, as entrepreneurs, we don’t really need a formula.

We can stand on the shoulders of giants. We don’t need to guess or try to figure out our path to success from complete scratch. We can look to the successful entrepreneurs out there and emulate their habits, common qualities and characteristics.

Here are the six common qualities I’ve found among the entrepreneurs I try to model myself after. This isn’t the definitive list nor the only important qualities. These are just the ones I think you can take the most away from right now. With each quality, I’ll show you a successful entrepreneur that possesses it and how you emulate them and apply that quality today.

1. Perseverance

Arianna Huffington faced rejection after rejection when trying to publish her second book, After Reason. However, Arianna did not give up. When she was 23 years old, she was rejected by 36 publishers before her book was finally published.

Years later, in 2003, Arianna ran for governor of California in the California gubernatorial recall race. However, after seeing only 2 percent support in early polls, Arianna dropped out of the race. Despite this, and seeing the power of the internet through her fundraising campaign, two years later she launchedHuffingtonPost.com, which later sold to AOL.com in 2011 for $315 million.

via HuffingtonPost.com

My mother said failure was a stepping stone to success

Arianna understood the importance of perseverance despite her failures and roadblocks. A successful entrepreneur knows that failures and rejections are not signs for stopping but instead signs to keep pushing forward and persevering.

Begin looking at failures and roadblocks as learning experiences and stepping stones. Remember that if it were easy, everyone would do it. You will encounter failures, setbacks and other obstacles. But that’s okay. Persevering despite the struggle is one of the most rewarding experiences for entrepreneurs.

2. Self-Improvement and Always Learning

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla Motors, is known for being someone who learns very fast. Before Elon Musk started the SpaceX program, according to Esquire’s interview, he read and consumed as many rocketry and propulsion books as possible to learn how to build rockets.

When Elon Musk participated in an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit, one user asked how Elon is capable of learning so much in such a short amount of time. Elon replied “one bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree—make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e. the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”

via Wikipedia

I think it’s very important to have a feedback loop, where you’re constantly thinking about what you’ve done and how you could be doing it better. I think that’s the single best piece of advice: constantly think about how you could be doing things better and questioning yourself.

Even with Elon’s success with PayPal and Tesla, and all of his accumulated experience, he understood he would have to learn about rockets and rocket propulsion systems if he wanted to be a competent leader of a space flight company.

Successful entrepreneurs strive to learn more. A part of this is realizing that no matter how successful you are or how much you think you might know, there’s always an opportunity to learn more and work on your personal growth.

Start reading more, listening to more podcasts, and watching more YouTube videos on subjects that can help grow your business. Put together a regiment and daily routine where you set aside an hour a day to work on yourself and becoming a more knowledgeable entrepreneur.

3. Risk-Taker

Bill Gates risked his future when he dropped out of Harvard when only 20 years old, to co-found the software company, Microsoft.

From Bill Gates’ book, “Business @ the Speed of Thought: Using a Digital Nervous System”, Bill describes his risk-taking as “to win big, sometimes you have to take big risks. Big bets mean big failures as well as successes. Today, looking back, it’s easy to believe that Microsoft’s current success was inevitable. But at the time we made our big bets, including starting the company as the first personal computer software firm, most people thought we would fail.”

Business is a money game with few rules and a lot of risk.

What are the things you are most afraid of doing that has the potential to grow your business the most or put you on the most direct path to where you want to be? One way to overcome the fear of taking risks is simply through exposure. Entrepreneur.com suggests surrounding yourself with other risk-takers. To break out of your comfort zone, and start taking more risks with your business, spend more time with people who encourage you, not the ones who think you will fail.

4. Leadership

Howard Schultz’s leadership helped quickly turn Starbucks around when it was on the brink of failure in 2008, during a massive recession. In an interview with London Business Forum, Howard Schultz talked a lot about leadership and what it took for him to revive Starbucks. One of the most notable things Howard says in this interview is “leaders need to be decisive, and you have to be willing to make decisions without perfect information.”

via YouTube

I think the currency of leadership is transparency, you’ve got to be truthful. I don’t think you should be vulnerable every day, but there are moments where you’ve got to share your soul and conscience with people and show them who you are, and not be afraid of it.

Leadership means being decisive and executing on the things that lead to the growth and betterment of your business. If you have employees or people that you work with, part of being a leader is also explaining how and why the decision is made.

Taking initiative and taking responsibility (and ownership of problems) are two things you can start doing now to work to develop your leadership skills.

5. Hustle and Tremendous Work Ethic

Even while Oprah Winfrey hosted The Oprah Winfrey Show, she was not shy to take on other projects. She appeared in 12 movies and cameoed and produced dozens of other TV shows, movies and documentaries. Oprah took on many different projects, all while keeping her show at the top of TV ratings and winning awards, including 9 Daytime Emmys for Outstanding Talk Show.

Even after the series finale of The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2011, Oprah continues and continued  to be a media mogul with her own television network, Oxygen, her own channel, OWN, a magazine, a website, a XM satellite radio channel and several more movies and television show cameos.

via Oprah.com

The big secret in life is that there is no big secret. Whatever your goal, you can get there if you’re willing to work.

Success requires a little bit of grit and hustle. In Oprah’s case, her success came from how she built up her personal brand. She hustled to put herself on nearly every channel available to her without sacrificing quality.

How many platforms can you put your business and brand on? Get active and use the channels available, to bring awareness to your brand.

Go out there and work for it. Don’t be passive or wait for the traffic to come to you. You need to go out there and proactively market your product and proactively make a name for yourself. Nobody is responsible for your success besides you.

6. Focus

When Steve Jobs returned to a failing Apple in 1996, he saw that Apple was losing focus on what made them successful and great. By 1997, Steve reduced Apple’s product line from 350 to just 10.

At a developer’s conference in 1997, Steve Jobs was quoted as saying “When you think about focusing, you think ‘Well, focusing is about saying yes.’ No! Focusing is about saying no.”

via YouTube

Around this time, Steve Jobs had to make a lot of tough decisions to kill off a lot of the products and projects Apple was involved in. Apple’s poor management caused the company to spread itself out too thin. Steve noticed this and began to focus the company which inevitably helped Apple be the powerhouse brand and company that it is today.

When you think about focusing, you think ‘Well, focusing is about saying yes.’ No! Focusing is about saying no.

Successful entrepreneurs know the importance of focusing and not spreading themselves out too thin or allowing their business to lose focus from its’ original vision.

Take time to step outside of yourself and your business and see where you have started to lose focus. A simple strategy to employ is to keep it simple. Focus on making the best one product instead of making 10 “okay” products. Focus on growing the best ecommerce business in one industry instead of trying to decently serve several niches.

Stand on the Shoulders of Giants

You don’t have to adopt all of these qualities today, just the ones you resonated the most with. Does your business feel unfocused? Work on your focus. Are you not grinding enough? Start hustling more to get your business and products out there.

Entrepreneurs are not born with these qualities, they learn and adopt them through mentors, influencers and their own personal experience. You can start today to do the same to be a better entrepreneur and business leader.

Let me know which quality resonated the most with you in the comments below. If you feel like there’s an important entrepreneurial quality that I missed, let me know as well. I engage and respond with all comments.

Original article can be found at:http://www.shopify.com/blog/39604485-6-common-qualities-of-successful-entrepreneurs-and-how-you-can-adopt-them