All posts by Meredith

Would YOU do this?

In our last blog post we talked about our new showcase for helping solopreneurs to make a living on their own terms by creating a successful business through reaching an audience online.

And we asked for your help – because we want (this time), to make sure it is going to be something you want and that will help you get you to where you want to be be – quicker and with fewer and less costly mistakes! (All solopreneurs make mistakes – it is part of the process).

So here is our idea – let us know what you think …

We want to follow the stories of 3 solopreneurs in a new 11-part reality web series series – either who have a business idea and are just starting to build an audience online, OR who have started – maybe are a year or two in – but are stuck and need help to get real momentum.

We will create a 90 day plan with our three podcast participants and follow their story over the three months of the plan. We want to show how three individuals with a passion to create their own business, deal with steps to make that happen.

We will be helping them to hone their audience, helping them to create awareness with that audience, that they have something to offer that can help them, how to capture that interest and convert them into paying customers. We look at the technology they need, how to show what makes them unique, build trust. How to predict and track visitors and sales. Ultimately, how to build a semi-automated sales machine that will work for them consistently and predictably and that will enable them to live the kind of life they want, on their terms.

The idea is to bring in additional experts to help them with various aspects of their business as needed, whether that be ecommerce, branding, mindset issues, whatever they need. And we will see if we can successfully help them launch upward on the journey towards financial autonomy – or will they crash and burn?

Each participant will work with us behind the scenes and will be recorded 3 times each. Our ‘season’ will consist of an introductory show, 9 interview shows, and a wrap-up show to see how everyone did, making a total of 11 weekly shows for a season (possibly 2 seasons per year).

We also want our viewers to participate as well. We shall be doing weekly challenges, based on the challenges the show participants are going through. Viewers can post their challenge homework to a dedicated Facebook Group and will be awarded points. Prizes will be awarded to the people who gain the most points over the season. That way, the viewers can ‘play along’ and make progress on their own businesses, benefiting from the advice given on the show.

We are also looking to do a weekend live event for 6 more participants who want to go through the process but don’t want to be on a ‘reality show’. This will be a 3 day intensive, pretty much going through the same process but over three days and will have ongoing email support for the full 90 day period.

So what do you think? Is this something you would watch?  Participate in?

Would you want to be a web reality show participant?

Would you prefer to come to a weekend live event instead?

Is there anything you would like to see added?

What would YOU look for in a 90 day program?

This is not set in stone for us – if no-one wants it we won’t create it – we don’t want to make THAT mistake again. And we are happy to entertain changes in the program. So let us know what you think…

If the feedback is positive, on Tuesday we’ll let you know more about who we are looking for to participate on the show…

Crimes of Passion

Last week we talked about where we went wrong in our business, to the point where we literally had to pull the plug because it just wasn’t working. However, the lessons we learned from our 100 interviews in our Paycheck To Passion podcast were still valid as far as being able to help solopreneurs succeed. These lessons were that solopreneurs struggle with 3 things:

1) Not having a concrete plan (or path) to follow
2) Not having people around them who understand what they are going through or trying to achieve
3) Getting overwhelmed by trying to do everything there is to do in a business all by themselves, and thus not ending up doing the thing they went into business to do in the first place.

However, there was a fourth lesson we learned – and learned the hard way – just because you think you have a solution people will want, you need to test that assumption before going all the way down the long path of building it. It turns out that, although our solution to the above problems all solopreneurs face addressed each of the issues, the “fix” (in this case, Time Traders Club), wasn’t how solopreneurs operated – at least not enough of them. The problem was that the solution we came up with was too complicated for most solopreneurs to work.

The problem was that we were passionate about helping people make a living on their own terms, doing something they love to do, by reaching an audience online. Our ‘crime of passion’ was not doing the research to make sure the ‘how’ of what we were delivering was what was wanted.

However, those issues are still very relevant to a lot of solopreneurs out there. We still very much want to help solopreneurs overcome them, by giving them a concrete plan to follow; connecting them with other solopreneurs who understand the unique challenges they are going through; and to help them avoid getting overwhelmed by all that they have to do on a daily basis, by showing them there are other – better – ways to operate than by trying to do everything yourself.

So here’s what we are thinking.

We want to showcase how it can be done in a brand new story-based video podcast.

So many solopreneurs waste years of effort and thousands of dollars on doing the wrong things. As “Solo Biz Hackers” we want to hack passed that wasted effort and get people to the part where their business starts working for them. This is how we help people on a one-on-one basis in our coaching practice.

But we need your help.

We don’t want to make the same mistake as before and go into all the effort of building something only to find it is not what people need.

So this time we are asking first – doing the research – making sure what we offer is what you need.

Check your inbox on Thursday and I’ll go into more detail about our vision for the new podcast, and how you can help us make sure it is something you will want to see happen.

Here’s what happened…

In our last post, Jasper wrote about why we decided to pivot our business away from Time Traders Club. It really came down to two things for us…

Time Traders Club (a time bank for entrepreneurs) sounded better in theory than it was in practice (we weren’t making money at it) and also we ended up becoming coaches in another program and didn’t have the time and energy to essentially start over and do what needed to be done to make Time Traders Club work.

It has been a few months since we made the decision to close down Time Traders Club, and I can now look at what happened with a bit more perspective. There were three reasons that Time Traders Club never took off…

The first one was that we didn’t properly test the idea. When we talked to people about TTC – they were really excited about the concept. We quickly grew our free membership to hundreds of people. There were two issues with that – the first was that we weren’t selective as to who could be in the group. Everyone who joined was great – but we had the wrong balance of people We attracted a lot of people who needed technical help – but few people who had the skills to truly help.

Plus, we were making things really, really complicated. Because we were trading “hours”, we needed a system that allowed people to find people whose skills matched plus track the hours. Because a virtual time bank is a NEW idea, there weren’t systems in place that did this well. We spend thousands of dollars on three different systems, none of them were easy to use for the members. Trades did not happen because they weren’t easy to do.

And, finally, because people joined the group for free help, they weren’t as willing to pay to be part of the group. We didn’t have enough paying members to keep the lights on and we needed to close our doors.

I’ve had plenty of time to reflect since then…. Plus coaching other business owners to success has helped me frame what happened to our business a bit better.

We still believe that knowing how to leverage your skills to make money online is one of the most important skills you can have right now. Being able to make money on your own gives you freedom to live the life you want. We want to help you do that.

And, combining what we learned from Time Traders Club and from coaching clients this past year, we THINK we’ve come up with a better way.

But, we need your help… because we don’t want to get it wrong again.

I’ll let you know what we have in mind next week.

So Where Did We Go Wrong?

Ever since we got together at a coworking space in Albuquerque in the summer of 2013, our mission has been to help people who want to create a living on their own terms by reaching a paying audience online. Over the years we have tried a number of different avenues on how best to achieve that, gradually moving from a virtual assistant type model to more of a coaching model.

Two big events happened in 2017 that fundamentally changed our business plan. The first is that both of us ended up getting hired by a St Louis based Inc 500 company to coach their new Mastery Program clients.

The coaching program to help clients either take a new business to a viable level, or a current business that wasn’t generating enough customers into a viable business – creating a Blueprint Plan to get them there and supporting them through the process of building their leadership authority, creating a funnel, and building the content and process infrastructure they need to create an ongoing semi-automated flow of new prospects.

The second momentous event came a little over a month later when we realized that, after three years of effort, Time Traders Club, our solopreneur knowledge and skills trading site and time bank was just not generating the interest to make it sustainable. We decided that we needed to shut it down and find a new avenue for helping solopreneurs. It was a tough decision – we had put a lot of work into the project over the previous three years, but it wasn’t working.

We thought we had come up with a way to tackle the three major issues that most solopreneurs come up against, which we established clearly over the course of 100 interviews with a wide variety of solopreneurs in our Paycheck To Passion Podcast, the lessons of which led us to writing our book, The ESCAPE Plan: 6 Steps To Leaving The Job You Hate by Creating a Business You Love. Those 3 issues are:

1) Not having a concrete plan (or path) to follow
2) Not having people around them who understand what they are going through or trying to achieve
3) Getting overwhelmed by trying to do everything there is to do in a business all by themselves, and thus not ending up doing the thing they went into business to do in the first place.

We thought our skills sharing/ time bank idea was the solution to help in all three of these areas – helping solopreneurs to operate in THEIR zone of brilliance – but it turned out not be the case.

So where did we go wrong? What did we miss that led us to the wrong conclusions?

Tune in to my next post on Thursday and I’ll outline the lessons we learned … something you might benefit from yourself before you make the same mistakes we did.

Look out for that post in your inbox, or on our blog…

The Easiest Way to Start a Podcast

I just found the coolest podcasting tool … it is ? love at first sight.

I had a podcast a few years back… we went to number one on New and Notable for iTunes… it was fun – but a TON of work…

Besides lining up guests, making sure they had a good mic set up, promoting the podcast, etc. – there was all the set up (getting your feed to work, recording your episode, posting it to iTunes, Pocket Cast, etc. )

It was a TON of work – and eventually, even though we were getting 1000 downloads a week – we decided it wasn’t worth it to continue. 

And, when we decided to cancel our podcast hosting service which was costing us a lot of money, they didn’t have a way to give us the feed, so the podcast ended up being taken off of iTunes.

Recently tho, I found a free smartphone app called anchor.fm which completely simplifies the process.

 It takes about 15 minutes to set up your show… they take care of setting up all your feeds to iTunes, etc.

Once you are all set up, you just record by talking into your phone (the sound quality is awesome). Push done – you can add a background track and publish. The podcast magically goes where it needs to.

You can even interview guests through the app, have people leave messages, etc.

And… it is all free. Such a timesaver.

I’m using it for a quick 4 day per week podcast with a 2-minute business tip – here’s a link if you want to see what that looks like – https://anchor.fm/meredith-eisenberg

Let me know if you decide to do a podcast – I would love to listen 🙂

7 Secret Tools To Generate Traffic-Attracting Blog Post Ideas

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Want more traffic to your blog posts? Write better headlines… It’s time to get creative and come up with fresh twists on your ideas that stand out and get noticed amidst all the “noise” online.

You could sit around for hours, painfully attempting to brainstorm and wrack your brain for ideas… or you could get smart, save time and hack your way to attention-grabbing headlines.

Remember: A hack is a clever and ingenious way to solve a problem or overcome a challenge.

Usually a “hack” allows you to do something quicker, and with less energy or brain power, while arriving at a desired (and even better) end result.

So, with the tools below you can easily “hack” your way to more creatively fresh headlines and save your brain!

BlogAbout Title Idea Generator

BlogAbout offers several ways to generate ideas for titles and even a feature to save your favorite ideas into a notebook. Simple and fun with a very nice layout.

Click here for the BlogAbout Title Idea Generator

Portent Title Maker

This one is a blast to play with. In addition to headline ideas it explains each piece of the headline it suggests so you understand it learn more about great headlines in the process. Set a timer before you go to this site or you may be there a while…

Click here for the Portent Title Maker

HubSpot Blog Topic Generator

Enter three subjects and get back a week worth of blogging ideas. Comes up with some very interesting titles and is great for business bloggers.

Click here for the Blog Topic Generator

Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer Tool

Will your headline connect with your audience on an intellectual, empathetic, or spiritual level?

Test it out with this tool and see what comes up. Then change a few words and see what difference it makes.

Click here for the EMV Headline Tool

Tweak Your Biz Title Generator

Want a LOT of ideas? Just put a word into this spinner, tell it if your word is a noun or verb, and hit the green button. You’ll get an avalanche of ideas!

Click here for the TweakYourBiz Title Generator

HookLine Dynamic

Take any idea you’ve got and turn it into an amazingly magnetic headline with this tool. Swap words in and out, and watch as the excitement, emotion and empowerment scores update so you can measure your variations against each other to choose the best.

Click here for the Hookline Dynamic tool

The “Get Ideas” Tool

Hidden inside the HookLine Dynamic tool, the little “Get Ideas” button will help you brainstorm some of the most curiosity-driven and magnetic headlines you’ve ever seen. It’s based on the psychology and format behind today’s biggest viral posts, and applies those principles for your audience and subjects.

Click here for the “Get Ideas” tool

Work Less Live More: The Easiest Way To Succeed in Business and Enjoy Life

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What a difference a year can make. Last year at this time — I was *stressed*.

And, it wasn’t your normal, works full time, has a business, is planning a bat mitzvah kind of stress.

I was spending a lot of time in tears (literally) and really not feeling well at all.

I wondered why I even was trying to build a business at all… it felt like I had traded the golden handcuff of a corporate job for the electronic monitoring bracelet of slack and social media.

And, because of that, I almost gave up trying. After nearly a decade of helping people create a business that worked for them, I was ready to throw in the towel and get ready for some serious Netflix binging.

But, because of you… I couldn’t do that. My mission is to help smart people make a living (and a difference) by sharing their knowledge with the world. And, given how fast the world is changing, being able to make a living using your skills becomes more and more critical. I couldn’t give that up… but something had to change and fast…

And it did.

I realized that I am not the *only one* who has a busy and full life. I knew many people who made this work for them… Instead of reinventing the wheel,

– I started to listen to their stories. And, take bits of pieces of what they did for my own.
– I got much more intentional about scheduling.
– I learned how to set better boundaries
– I cleaned up my “very complicated” offerings, shut down one of my businesses, and got clear.

The easiest way to get out of the solopreneur stress cycle, is to learn from people who have done just that.

The problem with that is knowing *who* is the real deal – and who is just photoshopping their success. It is hard to know.

That is why I was happy to be asked to be one of the guest experts on Deb Johnstone’s Elevating Entrepreneurs Summit which begins on March 12.

The summit is all about how to create a life that gives you time and freedom – and make more doing it.

The reason I’m excited about this summit is that I personally know many of the presenters including Michele Scism, Belanie Dishong, Giovanna Rossi, Jena Rodriguez and Paul Taubman. They have all built business that change lives and yet allow them the freedom to enjoy their lives too.

(I am pleased as punch that I was chosen to be part of such a cool group of entrepreneurs)

Here’s what is on the agenda:

  • Your personal productivity style, and strategies that will empower you to work less and earn more and therefore, enjoy the time and freedom to do the things you want to do!
  • The unconscious patterns that keep you stuck, and how to stop those patterns—for good—so you can finally break through to higher levels of success.
  • Top secret marketing, public relations and sales strategies to help you stop wasting time as you build more awareness around your brand and increase sales.
  • The very best tools you already have, and how to leverage them to fuel your success and results, day-to-day.
  • And so much more.It is like having a “kitchen cabinet” of talented advisors to help you create a flow state in your business.
    .
    Sign up for the summit here: https://solobizhacker.com/freedom

Super Simple Email List Building Checklist

Recently, I asked a few of my mentors what would be their first step if their business dried up and they had to start again from scratch.

They ALL said that step one would be to start building their email list. That’s because no matter how the rules change in social media – your email list belongs to you. Even though there are many new ways to get in touch with customers including text messages, Facebook chat bots, etc. Email is still going to bring your sales over time.

It is never too soon to start building your list. Any work you put in now will be paid back many fold in the future.

That’s why I’ve developed this checklist so you can be sure you have all the right pieces in place.

Here’s what you need to get started:

An Enticing Lead Magnet

This could be an ebook, video, app, e-course or anything else that has the following characteristics:

  • It’s easy to deliver. (Typically, a digital download that you deliver automatically through your autoresponder.)
  • It’s something your prospects really want. (Hint: do your market research to find out what it is that people really want.)
  • It has a high perceived value.
  • It solves a specific problem.
  • It sells something else on the backend (such as your tripwire product).

A Compelling Opt In  or Lead Page

Even though your lead magnet is free, people aren’t going to knock down your door to claim it unless you build its value. That’s why you need to create a lead page that persuades people to fill in your opt-in form.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • Be sure your lead page looks polished and professional.
  • Lead with your product’s main benefits.
  • Arouse curiosity about the lead magnet if possible. (With the
  • idea being that the only way to satisfy that curiosity is by opting in.)
  • Offer a call to action to get people opting in.

We really like Thrive Themes for lead pages.

A Reputable Autoresponder

Nowdays, it is fairly easy to find an autoresponder that will work for you without spending much money at first.   Our two recommendations are Mailerlite (which is has everything you need to get started and is free up to 1,000 subscribers) and Active Campaign (which has more features than Mailerlite and is a good next step).

An Initial Autoresponder Sequence

Generally, this multipart sequence should promote your tripwire product. A tripwire is a very valuable yet inexpensive product.  Keep these tips in mind:

  • Offer an informational sequence that’s useful (to build good relationships and keep people reading), yet incomplete (which helps you steer people towards paid products).
  • Provide a three to seven-part sequence that’s informative and engaging. Each email should build anticipation for upcoming emails. E.G., “Next time you’ll discover a little-known trick for getting rid of cellulite!”
  • Craft benefit-driven, curiosity arousing subject lines to get the open. E.G., “Start a six-figure business for just $47?”
  • Use responsive templates/HTML in your emails, as a large number of your subscribers will be reading your message from their mobile phones.
  • Track and test your emails. It’s the only way to know what’s really working in terms of email subject lines, sales copy, calls to action, and even the offers themselves.

Finally…

A Commitment to Maintaining Your List

It does you no good to go through all these steps if you don’t intend to email

your list regularly. So, commit to emailing them on at least a weekly basis, and you’ll see your list profits grow!

Get More Tips for Email Marketing Success Download Our Email Marketing Playbook

The Tools We Use to Run Our Business Online

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One of the questions I get asked the very most – is some version of “what is the best (fill in the blank) to use…?

What email system to use?  What shopping cart are you using?  What should I use to create an opt in page? What about a blogpost?

And… really… there is no right answer for everyone.  I can’t tell you what is right for you right here in this blog post – what I can do is tell you what we personally use to run our business.  The tools I use might be a good fit for you too.

Tools we use to run our website

This site is hosted with HostGatorHostGator has been a bit more of a bare bones experience.  Something like MomWebs provides more white glove level support – but for just a little more per month.  Our domains are registered with GoDaddy and HostGator.  

We host our site on WordPress.   Although many of our clients have had great luck with Wix or SquareSpace, I’ve just always used WordPress.  It has an almost infinite functionality through plugins and integrates with everything under the sun. AND there is a giant universe of freelancers and/or virtual assistants who can help you build and manage a WordPress site.

We use ThriveThemes.  Over the past year or so, ThriveThemes has seriously upped their game for ease of use and the ability to create nice landing and sales pages.  The yearly membership gets you access to all of their themes plus other goodies like a countdown timer, a quiz funnel, etc.  

One of my favorite part of ThriveThemes is Thrive Architect which is a drag and drop creation tool and ThriveLeads.  ThriveLeads is one of the most advanced opt in systems.  It does cool things like let you show different calls to action depending on whether someone is already a subscriber or not.  (It is also one of the least expensive systems – you can get Thrive Leads on its own for just $67 (but buying the entire Thrive membership is a great deal since you get access to everything… including WordPress themes.

Email Marketing

We tried just about every email marketing autoresponder system out there a few years ago, and decided that Active Campaign provided the very best value for the money.  In addition to simply sending emails, Active Campaign has a CRM component and allows you to create advanced sequences and funnels with great integration with payment, accounting and other systems.

For people who are just starting out, I’ve been recommending Mail Chimp which now includes tagging and automation in their free basic plan for up to 500 subscribers.  I’ve also heard really good things about MailerLite which includes advanced automations and drag and drop landing pages – and is free up to 1000 subscribers and only $10 a month up to 2500.

Shopping Cart – How I Collect Money

At the end of the day,  you need to collect money in order to have a business.  And, having a way to do that virtually is going to save you a LOT of time and money.   Most people start out with a simple paypal button – but once you get more than a few people paying you, you are going to want something that easily connects to your email list and referral program.

My highest recommendation for a shopping cart system goes to ThriveCart. (No relation to Thrive Themes).  We’ve been using it here at Magical Marketing Machine for the past few years and no other shopping cart is as feature-filled or easy to use.   It easily integrates with Active Campaign and many membership platforms, it has an affiliate program, coupons, upsells, cart abandonment tagging.  Plus, the pages were designed for maximum conversion.   It handles state tax and VAT really well.

Even better, while most shopping carts charge you a fee *on top* of the fee your merchant account charges – ThriveCart does not.  

I have been really excited about the cart for a long time – but I had no idea how to recommend it to you because (like gmail) it has been in limited beta forever.   They’ve opened the private beta back up again to friend of their customers.  You can now buy a lifetime membership for a fraction of the cost of other big shopping carts ( which charge $97+ a month).  Check that out here.  (If you decide to buy – I’ll help you get your email autoresponder connected and first product set up.)

Booking Appointments

Finally, one of the biggest challenges I’ve had ramping up my coaching program is getting a booking system that worked well with multiple calendars.  I finally found something that worked really well  – Book Like A Boss.

Not only can you easily book appointments, Book LIke a Boss hooks up to Zoom and creates meetings for all of your appointments.  You can also hook it up to paypal to allow people to pay for sessions when booking.

Book Like A Boss. creates a really nice landing page for bookings – Here’s a peek at mine.

Need some help deciding what are best tools for your business? Schedule a Clarity Call with me by clicking the following link – Schedule

If you want something quick and easy – and only costs $3 forever – try pick.co

Did Facebook Just Ruin Your Business?

Uh oh… it has happened AGAIN… Facebook has changed its algorithm again affecting thousands of solo businesses who have invested SERIOUS time and money into building up their pages.

A few years ago, Facebook was really pushing business pages. Now they are essentially not going to show content from those pages unless you’ve paid for that post to be shown. This is really crazy making – its a total turnaround from what they were doing. People built their business models around organic Facebook reach.

Some of the people in our community have noticed a 90% drop in the engagement rate. Posts are just not getting through… at all.

I’m getting really strange sense of deja vu here… In the 10 years I’ve been online, I’ve noticed that big changes like these are one of the two things that are certain in online marketing. You cannot depend on building an audience in Facebook (or Google or YouTube) because at the end of the day, those audiences don’t belong to you and can be taken away in an instant.

The key to success is creating a list that 100% belongs to you. The easiest way to do that is through building your email list. The people who sign up for the list belong to you. You can download them onto a spreadsheet if you want to – they don’t belong to a third party.

To build you list, you need a solid lead magnet to convince people to sign up for your list. Not sure where to get started with that?

We are great fans of Thrive Themes. I found a great article on the Thrive Themes website about how to create a solid lead magnet (with some great examples). Click here to check out the article.

Feeling a bit stuck with your opt-in? Talk about it in our Solo Biz Hacker Facebook group. There are lots of friendly people there to help out.