Featured Momstyler – Karin Beery’s Press Release Toolkit

Today we meet Karin Beery of Write Now Editing & Copywriting Services. At the risk of dating both of us, I’ll share that Karin and I met nearly 20 years ago now in college, where we were fellow English majors and sorority sisters. I’ve known about Karin’s writing and editing work for a long time, and I was excited when she decided to join the Digital Product Challenge to create her first digital product.

When we think about digital products, we often think about passive income, and that’s definitely an important benefit from all the work that goes into the creative process. However, Karin’s story shows what can be an even more important benefit for some entrepreneurs, and that’s how you can receive opportunities to showcase your work that might not have surfaced otherwise.

Let’s hear from Karin Beery about her digital product journey so far.

Laura: Where did the idea for your digital product first come from?

Karin Beery

Karin Beery: The idea for my first digital product, Writing and Distributing an Effective Press Release, was born out of my frustration from being on the receiving end of bad press releases. I knew what people were trying to do, but doing it badly was only wasting their time – the newspaper never called anyone who sent a bad press release.

Unfortunately, none of the small business owners I know can afford to pay for a professional copywriter. I thought a brief how-to might help many of them produce better press releases without having to hire a pro.

Laura: What were some of the more challenging parts of getting from idea to done, and how did you work past them?

Karin Beery: For me, it’s all about motivation. I’m pretty classically ADD – if I don’t have managers, teachers, or deadlines telling me what to do when, it’s easy to get distracted by a thousand different things. That’s why I needed the Digital Product Challenge – to give me a deadline.

Laura: What were some of the opportunities that surfaced as a result of starting to work on your first digital product? And what shifts did these opportunities create in your business?

Karin Beery: The first came from one of my beta readers. She works at the local chamber of commerce, and she wanted to know if I’d be interested in teaching the chamber members how to write press releases.

That inspired me to reach out to the local college – they offer extended education courses (non-credit classes in everything from knitting to Excel to yoga). I pitched the idea of a copy-writing-for-small-businesses class. They loved the idea, and I taught my first class in October.

That inspired me to approach our local SCORE chapter. I set out to tell people about my product and have started teaching all kinds of writing classes.

Laura: What did it feel like to see that first sale come in? And what’s happened since then?

Karin Beery: I was absolutely tickled! Since the first sale … I haven’t actually sold another tool kit. That fault is on me – I finished my digital product and jumped right into an intense four months of nonstop family visits, working two jobs, traveling, etc.

I had to pick and choose where to focus my time and energy, and launching my product didn’t make the list. That’s one of the reasons I signed up to do another digital product challenge – not only will it help me create another product, but I plan to re-launch the press release tool kit when I launch my new product.

Laura: What actions and steps do you feel were most critical in creating the opportunities you’ve experienced? 

Karin Beery's Writing and Distributing an Effective Press ReleaseKarin Beery: It all started with having one digital product – I knew I had to get myself out there to let people know that I had something to offer (besides my services). That inspired me to start teaching the classes, which has produced so many opportunities. Now I’m doubly inspired to create more digital products so I can direct people to them after they take my classes.

Laura: Can you give us a peak into what’s coming next in your online business?

Karin Beery: As far as copywriting, I’ll be teaching my content writing class at the college again in March, and I’m currently working on a digital tool kit to help people write more authentic biographies for their websites.

When I worked up the nerve to pitch the idea for the content writing class, I figured I might as well try to do more teaching (and digital product creation) for my fiction writing, so I pitched a couple of class ideas to the college and a local writing conference. Both were accepted.

Coincidentally, my recent teaching experiences helped me land the job of fiction-editing instructor for a large network of professional editors. I had already been thinking about creating digital products for fiction writing; I will now have to create them for these editing classes, and I’ll be able to sell them on my website (as well as on the organization’s site).

It’s all sort of snowballing, and I can honestly say it started with my desire to put myself out there so I could spread the word about my first digital product.

Laura: What would you recommend to other women who are putting together their first digital product? 

Karin Beery: FINISH IT! Your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect – Anne Lamott famously encourages writers to write a shitty first draft, because you can’t fix what you don’t finish. The same is true for the digital product. Just finish a shitty first draft, then polish it. It’s too easy to start something without finishing it, which is exactly what I would have done without the Digital Product Challenge.

Laura: Thank you so much and congratulations!  

Check out Karin’s first digital product, Writing and Distributing an Effective Press Release. To learn more about Karin, visit KarinBeery.com and her Write Now Editing & Copywriting Services website. You can also connect with Karin on Facebook and Twitter, and be sure to sign up for her newsletter.

5 Quick Ways to Generate Extra Profit Before Year-End

As we enter November, this is a good time to check in against this year’s financial goals. Are you on track to make the income you were hoping for in your business this year? And even if you are on track, would you like a little more cash in your PayPal account to cover some extra holiday spending?

This time of year is the perfect time to run a promotion. Done right, promotion can significantly add to your business profitability without creating much more in the way of extra work.

(Speaking of promotion, don’t forget that the prices are going up on the Digital Product Launch Planner, SEO Guide for Busy Moms, and Sales Copy Templates. Invest before November 18 and save $17 on each product.)

Here are 5 ideas for generating extra profit before year-end.

  1. Run a Black Friday and/or Cyber Monday sale. Many online businesses run one promotion and leave it open for Friday-Monday, and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing here at Momstyle.
  2. Finish the digital product you’ve been procrastinating on and launch it.
  3. Starting in December, pre-announce price increases for 2017 to drive sales before year-end.
  4. Pre-sell early bird spots in a 2017 program, perhaps at a discounted investment level before year-end. For example, you’ll be hearing from me in December about the next session of the Digital Product Challenge which will start in January.
  5. Run a holiday special or limited-time sale on any of your offers. For example, next week I’m delivering a webinar for business analysts, and I’ll be offering one of my digital products at 50% off only the day of the webinar.

All of these tactics work best if you have an email list to promote to, as email is still the most effective way to drive attention to your offers.  Click here to learn about the 5 list building essentials.

5-ways-to-generate-profit-before-year-end

5 Mistakes to Avoid When Choosing a Niche Online Business

Are you looking to start a niche online business? Or choose a more profitable niche inside an online business you’ve already started? On my journey to building two online businesses, one of the most important adjustments I made was to focus on the right niche.

Once I figured out who I could show up and serve profitably, everything got easier – from creating content to conceptualizing digital products that would sell.

If you are just starting out, or considering how to pivot your business to be more profitable, finding your niche is going to be one of the most important activities to do first. Here are 5 online business niche mistakes to avoid.

Niche Online Business Mistake #1 – Jumping from Niche to Niche

Building an online business takes time. While you don’t want to stick with an online business niche that doesn’t work for you, or doesn’t stand a chance of being profitable, if you jump from one niche to another, you never get the chance to experience real momentum in your business.

It’s not uncommon for me to see a woman just start to become known as the go-to person for a particular topic, and then switch her business to focus on something else. All that initial time and momentum is wasted.

It takes more work than many expect to know for sure if a niche is going to become profitable. An early positive sign is if people resonate with the messages you are sharing. Another sign is if you start receiving on-topic questions and requests for help.

Niche Online Business Mistake #2 – Too Broad and Inclusive

When I started my first online business, my niche was business analysts.  That might seem fairly specific but in reality, it was a big space. My content was all over the place as I aimed to be interesting to everyone from the very beginner to the most senior professional.

My business really started to gain momentum when I focused on helping people starting their business analyst careers. And later on, I narrowed in even further, emphasizing that I help mid-career professionals, as opposed to recent college graduates, start business analyst careers.

Similarly, featured Momstyler Jen McLellan focuses on helping plus-size pregnant women and Jennifer Mason focuses on helping birth photographers. These are both super specific niches, and both women are becoming well-known in their space because their work is so focused.

When you focus on a specific niche, it becomes much easier to create content and put together packages that directly support the people in that space. The irony is that you will start to attract even more people who are not directly in your niche, simply because your marketing content is so powerful and focused.

Niche Online Business Mistake #3 – Trying to Help Complacent People

One of the reasons my business momentum increased when I began helping people start business analyst careers is because there was a burning need. These people were moving away from a current, problematic state, whether that was unemployment or job dissatisfaction.

Employed business analysis professionals tended to be much more complacent in their careers, and I felt myself not only trying to sell my products but sell people on the need for them at all. This meant I needed to do twice the selling for the same amount of profit. That’s a recipe for exhaustion, not a profitable niche online business.

Niche Online Business Mistake #4 – Trying to Help People Who Don’t Have Money to Spend

When deciding on your niche, it’s also important to look at the people you want to serve and see if they have money to spend. In general, I find it more difficult to sell products and services to those who are unemployed for a long time, as funds understandably get tight. However, recently unemployed and highly motivated professionals working off their severance will often be ready to make investments to be sure they land on their feet quickly.

This doesn’t mean you can’t decide to come from a place of compassion and generosity to help people who can’t afford (or think they can’t afford) to pay you. In fact, I offer a ton of free content to help unemployed business analysts with their job search.

Just don’t run the risk of fooling yourself into thinking that the niche will be profitable if you want to serve people who don’t have money to spend.

On this topic, the mom entrepreneurs space has also proven to be a tough one for me. We as women can so undervalue ourselves that we resist spending money on us and our businesses. However, I see other women running successful online businesses helping mom entrepreneurs, and so I know it’s possible. I’ve been pivoting and exploring different aspects of this space to try to find the right women to focus on helping, and that’s why you’ve seen me focus more and more on passive income recently.

Niche Online Business Mistake #5 – Serving People You Aren’t Inspired to Serve

5 mistakes to avoid when choosing a niche online businessLast but not least, your online business niche needs to include people you are inspired to serve. Over and over again, I receive questions from mom entrepreneurs asking me about what type of online business they should start.

Almost invariably, my answer is the same:

  • Do what’s inspiring you.
  • Do work that you love.
  • Serve people you are excited to help.

Creating a profitable online business requires a lot of time and hard work. If you choose a niche that is meaningful to you personally, you’ll enjoy the work and be more likely to get through the rough spots.

>>Get Feedback on Your Niche

Finding the right online business niche requires some experimentation and a willingness to adjust. After all, that’s what makes you unstoppable.

A strong community and some feedback can also be invaluable. To get feedback on your online business niche or any other aspect of building a profitable, flexible online business, be sure to join us in the Momstyle Your Business Facebook group. You’ll receive regular tips for creating passive income from your online business and be part of an empowering community of mom entrepreneurs.

Click here to request access to the Momstyle Your Business Facebook group

Featured Momstyler – Adriana Lozada’s Labor Support Toolkit

I’m so excited today to connect you with Adriana Lozada, creator of the Birthful Podcast, who launched the Birth Partner’s Ultimate Labor Support Toolkit: Go From Clueless to “I’ve Got This.”  Adriana was one of the few women in the Digital Product Challenge that I didn’t really know at first, but right away I could tell that she had a great platform from which to launch a digital product. She already had a successful podcast and she had several digital product ideas to further serve her community of expecting moms and birth professionals.

As you can expect, time as a birth professional can be unpredictable. During the challenge, Adriana got called to 3 births. It was extremely gratifying to see her stay on track despite these distractions of her “real” work, and she shares more about how she did that in her interview. 

Now, with her digital product out and in the world, she’s helping birth partners everywhere support birthing moms with compassion and confidence. I mean, who wouldn’t want their partner to feel more prepared for their birthing day and do the things that will help them have a more positive birth experience?

Without further ado, let’s hear from Adriana.

Laura: Where did the idea for your digital product first come from?

adriana-lozadaAdriana Lozada: I’d been talking about turning my postpartum preparation classes into online classes for nearly 4 years. As time went by, I felt more and more frustrated, even defeated about how daunting of a task it was becoming.

A few months back, I had Jennifer Rue McLellan as a guest on my podcast, and after the recording, she mentioned that your “30-day Digital Product Challenge” was about to start. It was exactly the kind of push that I needed to turn something -anything!- into a digital product.

30 days is not that long, so I knew I couldn’t tackle the postpartum classes in that amount of time. I tried to come up with something that would have a lot of value, but would be super straightforward and simple to create. That’s how the idea for the Birth Partner’s Ultimate Labor Support Toolkit came to be.

Laura: What were some of the more challenging parts of getting from idea to done, and how did you work past them?

Adriana Lozada: The hardest part was carving out the time to work on this project. Between my birth doula practice, sleep consultations, the podcast, and oh, yeah, life, it was difficult to “put the important before the urgent.”

Doula work requires that I always be as well-rested as possible, so I’m not able to stay up writing until very late at night (although I find that’s a really productive time for me!). During the 30 days of the challenge I was called to 3 births, so I kept falling behind on the tasks that we were supposed to be working on. It was hard not to let that push my emotional triggers, but work through it and keep the momentum going.

My 30-day challenge was more like 105 days, but I was determined to get it done. One of the more drastic steps I had to make was to take a hard look at my schedule and decide to put my sleep consultation practice on hold for the summer in order to focus on the toolkit. I also streamlined some of my other processes so that I’ll be able to have the time to create more products in the future.

Laura: What did it feel like to see that first sale come in?

Adriana Lozada: It was the most incredible feeling ever! I had set up an early-bird list where people could be notified the minute the toolkit was available for sale. Within 10 minutes of the cart being open I had 2 sales.

I actually jumped and did a happy dance for about 5 minutes! There may even have been tears of joy… I was filled with such a sense of relief, knowing that what I’ve been dreaming about for years can actually become reality.

Laura: What kind of results have you seen since that first sale?

Adriana Lozada: Before launching the toolkit, I had no idea what to expect. Never having done this before, my biggest goal was to launch something in order to go through the process; to figure out how all the steps come together and learn how it’s done. But I can certainly see all my hard work paying off! I’ve had enough sales to balance out the hiatus I took from sleep consultations, and that’s extremely exciting.

What I love the most is the feedback that I’m getting from those who have gotten the toolkit. One podcast listener emailed me saying,

“As soon as I heard about the toolkit, I knew it would be the perfect compliment for my husband.  I know he wants to be involved and supportive – but is not interested in listening to the HOURS of podcasts that I enjoy for the fun of it.  I just completed my purchase – and I have to say I am in tears….joyous tears!  I think this is going to be the perfect thing for him when we go into labor.”

Laura: What actions and steps do you feel were most critical in creating this result?

labor-support-toolkitAdriana Lozada: Setting up an early-bird list was key. Most of my initial sales came from that list, and it had a 44% conversion rate.

Also, when I posted the launch on Facebook, I asked people to comment why they wanted the toolkit in their lives, saying that I would PM a discount code to those who commented. That helped me get a feel for who was interested and why, and for them to get instant gratification through the coupon. Having people comment also helped amplify the number of people who saw the post.

Laura: Can you give us a peek into what’s coming next in your online business?

Adriana Lozada: I’m going to spend a few more weeks trying different things with the toolkit as part of my learning process. For example, I was recently invited to be a guest on the Healthy Births, Happy Babies podcast, to talk about the toolkit. The episode aired this Monday, and I’ve gotten great feedback.

Many doulas and childbirth educators showed interest in the toolkit, so I’m working on creating a version that can be licensed and adapted into childbirth education classes.

Outside of the toolkit, my next goal for this year is to turn my “Life with a Newborn” postpartum preparation classes into an online class. Those classes have been invaluable for local parents, and I’m excited to share all that good info with the rest of the world. I’m hoping to follow that with an online childbirth education class.

I have the ability to easily translate all these products into Spanish, and I can’t wait to be able to help even more new and expectant parents that way.

Laura: What would you recommend to other women who are putting together their first digital product?

Adriana Lozada: To go for it! And when they do, to approach it as a learning process. To try to have fun with it, and lessen the pressure for perfection. The first digital product is just that: the first. After that, they will be hooked.

Laura: Thank you so much and congratulations!  

To learn more about Adriana’s Birth Partner’s Ultimate Labor Support Toolkit, visit birthful.com/toolkit. You can also listen to the Birthful Podcast on iTunes and connect with Adriana on Facebook.

Featured Momstyler – Jen McLellan’s My Plus Size Pregnancy Guide

When I first spoke with Jen McLellan, she had already built a massive social media following, spoken at numerous professional events, and co-authored her first book. She had also monetized her blog authentically (mostly with advertising) and was receiving a ton of traffic through search engine optimization. Her voice and message were already making a massive impact in empowering women during their pregnancies to love their bodies.

Yet, I felt like a saw a bit of me in Jen. Because about 5 years ago I had built what seemed like an impressive social media following and email list, but I wasn’t generating the cash flow I expected. It was like I was sitting on this huge well of potential abundance that I just didn’t know how to tap.

If you know me, you know that I love digital products! I couldn’t help but see how Jen’s business could turn a bigger profit if she had her own product to offer. And she knew this too, as she’d been wanting to create one for quite a while.

I was so honored when she decided to join my Digital Product Challenge so we could take the plunge together. She ended up creating a product that would further solidify her as the expert in plus size pregnancy, empower many more women to have a positive pregnancy experience, and be a foundational piece of a profitable business model.

That’s enough from me. Let’s hear from Jen McLellan, because she has graciously answered questions about what it was like to create and launch her first digital product.

Jen McLellan

Laura: Where did the idea for your digital product first come from?

Jen McLellan: For the past 5 years, I’ve been blogging about plus size pregnancy and body love. During that time I became certified as a childbirth educator and did a public speaking tour. I’ve wanted to write a book on plus size pregnancy for a few years but it seemed like a lot of work for not a large financial return.

I know many authors who set me straight on the fact that books are your best business card and way to get speaking engagements. While they might end up paying the monthly electric bill, they hardly ever pay the mortgage.

Connecting with Laura Brandenburg and her MomStyle Your Business Facebook group, helped me to start re-thinking a book and writing a toolkit instead.

Laura: What were some of the more challenging parts of getting from idea to done, and how did you work past them?

Jen McLellan: I could write out all of the basics here – finding time to write, setting the right price point, and wanting to get feedback from a few people before launching. And while all of those things are true, the most challenging factor for completing my product was fear of failure.

I’ve been working incredibly hard growing a Facebook following of over 177,000, blogging, speaking, and pouring all of my passion into my work. What was this all for?? Yes, I’ve helped so many women and that has been incredibly rewarding, however, I’ve also sacrificed a lot of time away from my family and have gotten into a significant amount of debt. What if the guide wasn’t well received? What if it failed? I was paralyzed by that fear.

What helped me to move past my fear was co-authoring a book with another business partner (I actually met Laura at my book launch party) as well as really believing in the digital product I was developing! It’s everything I wanted to read when I was plus size and pregnant, as well as everything I want plus size pregnant women to know as a birth professional. As my toolkit started coming together, I became really proud of the resource I knew it would become. Feedback from close friends and other birth professionals gave me the confidence to complete my toolkit.

Laura: What did it feel like to see that first sale come in?

Jen McLellan: For the past 5 years, while building my blog, I networked my butt off. Therefore, I had a strong feeling that I had set myself up for success! I was posting teasers in some mom and birth professional groups and someone made a purchase a few days before I went live.

It was exciting and then other sales came through. The day before I launched, I read the most amazing review from someone I didn’t know, “Hands down the BEST $17 I have ever spent. I feel lots better about being pregnant now! THANK YOU Jen!

That testimonial meant everything to me and I knew in that moment that I wasn’t going to fail – that I had succeeded!!!

Laura: What kind of results have you seen since that first sale?

Jen McLellan: Let’s just say that my launch paid not only my electric bill but also my mortgage in August. It was incredibly exciting seeing sale after sale coming in!!! As well as the positive feedback I’ve received! 

Laura: What actions and steps do you feel were most critical in creating this result?

My Plus Size Pregancy Guide by Jen McLellan

Jen McLellan: I’ve known for years that having a newsletter list was incredibly important for building an online business. I cringed each year doing my taxes seeing how much I was spending on my list of 5,000 and not seeing a financial return.

Well, my newsletter list of 5,000 outperformed my massive Facebook following of 177,000 in sales. I believe investing in growing my list and coming up with a strong launch e-mail plan was a big key to my success.

I’m also really proud of my product landing page and you can check it out here: plussizebirth.com/my-plus-size-pregnancy-guide. It includes a testimonial from a well-known plus size model and that’s where networking for all of these years has really paid off!

Laura: Can you give us a peek into what’s coming next in your online business?

Jen McLellan: My first toolkit, My Plus Size Pregnancy Guide, only covers pregnancy so my next guide will cover labor, birth and postpartum. I’m excited to start diving into it since these are topics I’ve given presentations on numerous times.

Laura: What would you recommend to other women who are putting together their first digital product?

Jen McLellan: DO IT! Just dive right in.

With that said, I think it’s super important to establish yourself as an expert in your field to encourage sales. Jump on as many podcasts that will have you as a guest and write tons of guest blog posts. Network, network, network!!

Laura: Yes, it is so important to build up your expertise to experience a successful launch and ongoing product sales. Thanks for mentioning that, Jen! And, congratulations! I’m so happy for you and I can’t wait to see where your digital products take you and your business!

To learn more about Jen’s work, visit plussizebirth.com and connect with her via Facebook here: facebook.com/plussizemommymemoirs.

3 steps that go into creating truly passive income online

If you want to create passive income online, most likely you are prepared to invest some time and energy now to receive more income while working less (or not at all) later.

The passive income model involved in building a momstyle business is centered around digital products. It’s what I know personally, having built a 6-figure business primarily from eBooks, digital toolkits, and online courses. It’s also the type of work that can be immensely profitable while also providing an outlet for your active creative spirit.

However, building a consistent stream of passive income online through digital products is not only about the product. The product is only the first step. Let’s look at the 3 critical steps to plan for when building passive income online around digital products.

Step 1 to Passive Income Online – Create a Digital Product that People Want

Creating a digital product (or 2 or 3 or 10) sets you up to receive passive income. You’ve created a product one time and can sell it again and again. However, not just any digital product will do.

A digital product that actually sells is one that people actually want, which can be different than what you think they need. Getting feedback early in your product development process can help you hone in on the real desires of your community. And, as you start your online business, be ready to tweak your product until you discover exactly what kind of offer sells easily to your community.

Step 2 to Passive Income Online – Automate Your Sales Process

Having a digital product sitting on a virtual shelf does not bring in passive income. There also needs to be a process to market and sell it. Often we generate our first sales by implementing a product launch, which generates initial awareness and revenue. However, launch takes a lot of work. And you don’t really want to be launching to your community all of the time.

A second way to market your products is to continue to serve your community with high-value content that mentions your products. For example, I almost always see upticks in sales after sending new content-rich emails or when I deliver live webinars. Over time, you can reuse your best converting content, so generating new sales does not always require new content.

To truly generate passive income, however, you want to be thinking about ways to automate your outreach and sales processes. For example, a lot of my sales are generated through search engine optimization + an online store. I also have a series of automated email marketing messages that generate new sales and upsells.

It this type of online marketing automation system, one that is continually working for you around-the-clock, that creates truly passive income. But to run your online business, you still need to be available to take care of your customers, so let’s look at that step next.

Step 3 to Passive Income Online – Delegate Your Customer Service

The third step to building passive income online to consider is customer service. Here we’re talking activities like sending people a new download link, resending login credentials and, from time to time, processing refunds. And for your income to truly be passive, you’ll want to have your customer service delegated to a virtual assistant.

(As an aside, refunds and a certain amount of negative feedback about your product are not necessarily an awful thing. It’s part of doing business online.)

In addition to customer service, consider any aspects to delivering your offer itself. For example, I sell on-demand online business analysis courses that provide professional credits for business analysts seeking certification. In order to issue those credits, an instructor needs to review a workbook and be available to answer questions throughout the course. Historically, I would do that work myself. I’ve recently begun delegating the instructor work, making the income increasingly passive.

Building Passive Income Online Is Not Just About the Products!

In short, if you truly want passive income, income that doesn’t require to work for the sale or after the sale, you’ll need more than just a digital product. You’ll need a selling system, a well-supported customer service process, and be able to outsource any other work that’s required to fulfill the promised made by your product.

For more support as you create digital products, build your online marketing system, and delegate your customer service, join my Momstyle Your Business Facebook group.

Your kids can’t be your entire why

My 4-year-old daughter fell asleep during this year’s fireworks. This is the daughter that stopped napping 2 years ago and didn’t sleep a wink during our 21-hour road trip. Yet, during the loud booms of one firework after another, I look over and there she is fast asleep in my husband’s arms.

I fought the desire to wake her up. After all, we’d stayed up so late to make this happen and I’d been building up the anticipation for days. Then I fought the feeling of guilt that I was a bad mom for keeping a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old up for the fireworks when they were obviously tired enough to sleep. Then I gave in and decided to snuggle up with my half-asleep 2-year-old and simply enjoy the fireworks myself.

After all, it had been 5 years since I’d seen them, always putting my children’s sleep and comfort ahead of my desire to go out and see the fireworks.

I see a lot of mamas today talking about how their children are their “why” behind their online business. While I definitely believe your children can be part of your why and your desire to show up as a mom in a certain way will impact the type of business you create, your children absolutely cannot be your entire why.

Your why has to come from YOU, from somewhere deep inside, not touched by anyone else. Not your parents. Not your partner. Not your children.

This is why the first component of a momstyle business is your creative spirit. That’s what lights you up. That’s what drives you. That’s why you choose to show up the way you do inside your business. You might think of this as your passion or calling. It’s why I chose first to start a blog about business analysis. And it’s why I chose to start the journey you are part of here at Momstyle Your Business.

The second is freedom and flexibility. That’s the piece that enables you to show up as you choose as a mom.

The third is profitability, which gives you the financial resources to make decisions from an empowered place, rather than one of constraint and need. Options like absorbing the cost of a virtual assistant, in-home child care, and housekeeping become viable.

If you’ve been believing that your children are your entire why, I’d challenge you to re-evaluate. Look at exactly what aspect of mothering and your children is driving you, and towards what. Then take personal responsibility for what you are doing above and beyond that, for you and only you.

There are dozens of ways that we neglect ourselves as mothers. Let’s not add to that problem by shifting the burden onto our children of why we do what we do in our businesses. For sure, becoming a mother and raising daughters has inspired me to show up in a completely different way, but they are not my entire why.

Your kids can't be your entire WHY

Reinvigorate your business with a mid-year business review

Sometime around May or June every single year I fall into a slump. I’ve been chugging along, ticking off one goal after another on the list I made for myself back in December. I’ve made a lot of progress, but I’m certainly not done.

But as I look at what’s left on my list, none of it catches my energy. Nothing lights me up and inspires me to take new action. After 8 years of building an online, momstyle business (and hitting this slump every year), I’ve learned to anticipate it and to get past it with a mid-year business review. I’m going to teach you how in this short article so you can get out of your mid-year slump.

Why You Need a Mid-Year Business Review

First, let’s look at why you end up in a slump, as this will help you understand the point of a mid-year business review. Simply put, you’ve changed since the beginning of the year when you set your goals. If you’ve done some mindset work, you could have changed in some big internal ways. But even if you feel like essentially the same you, you’ve learned from what’s happened in your business.

You are in a slump because the goals you set 6 months back no longer make sense. They no longer represent the best of what you have to offer. So it’s time to adjust.

(As an aside, this feeling doesn’t necessarily happen only 5-6 months into the year. If you are growing and evolving at a fast pace, you could find yourself feeling this way in April, March, or even February. This why I’ve given up detailed annual planning all together.)

Instead, I create a big picture mind map with some high-level goals, a short document outlining my assumptions and overall strategy, and then break them down about 3 months at a time using the 30-60-90 day process I learned about in Katy Moses Huggins’ Kick Start Your Business.)

How to Complete Your Mid-Year Business Review

Next, let’s talk about what your mid-year review looks like. Thankfully, since we are busy moms and there never seems to be enough time, this process is short and sweet. Set aside an hour and start writing:

  • First, list out what have you accomplished so far this year. Be as complete as you can. We often discount our accomplishments. Think of products released, content created, social media accounts set up, significant updates to your website or email sequences, relationships established, tasks outsourced, people hired, and even mindset shifts. Review any planning documents you have to make your list as complete as possible.
  • Next, look at the raw data inside your business. Statistics like revenue, website traffic, and follower counts. You’ll receive a template when you download my complimentary workbook, Build Your Business the Momstyle Way.
  • Look at what you’ve captured and connect the dots. What actions led to what results? What actions didn’t turn out like you expected? Sometimes I like to write a story to put it all into narrative form as this can be a powerful way to work through what I’ve created inside my business.

At this point you should feel more grounded and have a sense of clarity about what the first part of your year looked like. If you have a clear vision about where you are headed, then the next logical step will be to map out your high-level goals for the next 3 months or the big picture flow for the rest of the year. If you feel stuck, spend some time envisioning where you want to be by the end of the year in your business and then set the interim goals that will take you there.

The whole idea behind this work is to reinvigorate the energy you have around your business. By looking back, you can see how much you accomplished and get a clearer sense of what’s doable from now until the end of the year. By resetting new goals that light you up, you’ll get new energy for moving forward. By letting go of goals you set in December that no longer resonate, you clear space for more meaningful work.

How have you used a mid-year review in your business?

What goes into a mid-year business review?

3 reasons that hiring a virtual assistant can cost less than you expect

On your path to building a successful momstyle business, you will figure out how to absorb the cost of a virtual assistant. It’s not so much a manner of if as it is of when.

A virtual assistant is a person you hire on a contract basis to manage ongoing tasks in your business, from setting up your newsletter to providing customer service, to sharing your message on social media. A virtual assistant is going to help you create more flexibility in your business and will free up your time to be creating new digital products and enhance your online marketing system.

While it’s easy to think that hiring a virtual assistant is going to cost a lot of money, many business owners are surprised at just how affordable getting help is. Most wish that they would have started sooner rather than later.

Let’s look at 3 reasons that hiring a virtual assistant can cost less than you expect. Inside each reason, you’ll also learn how to structure your first VA agreement so that it fits within your budget.

#1 – Hiring a virtual assistant can cost less because the work may take them less time than it takes you

When we think about outsourcing, it’s natural to think that someone else, who isn’t familiar with your business, is going to require more time to do a task, and that it will be faster to just do it yourself. In my experience, this isn’t the case. More often, it takes my virtual assistant less time to do something than it would take me to do it.

One reason this happens is because we take the time to work through our business processes. Sometimes it’s because my VA has expertise I don’t have, and knows the faster way to accomplish a goal.

Another reason is that sometimes it’s not the work itself that makes a task difficult, but the emotional attachment you have to it as a business owner. A VA will not have the same angst about a task that you would experience. For example, while you are setting up your newsletter, you might be worried about whether you got a particular phrasing right, how the message will be received by your readers, and what your opt-out rate is going to be. Your VA on the other hand, focuses just on the task.

This means that even if you can only afford to outsource 1-2 hours per week, you could potentially free up 3-4 hours of your time for other activities that will help start your new business.

#2 – Hiring a virtual assistant can cost less than you expect because the rates can be lower than you think

Hourly or package costs for virtual assistants vary widely. I’ve seen VAs inside the US charging as low as $15/hour. You can get an even lower rate if you outsource internationally by taking advantage of the differences in cost of living.

A virtual assistant who can work more independently may cost you $30-50/hour. For a very specialized task, you could be paying $75/hour or more.

Keep in mind that as a general rule, the lower the rate you pay the more you’ll need to be involved in managing and overseeing work. And, someone who is charging a lower rate may end up costing you just as much as someone who chargers you more hourly, as they may work slower and bill more hours.

The question to ask yourself is could you afford to pay someone about $80/week to complete work that takes you 3-4 hours to do? This might be 3-4 hours of work for a lower paid VA or 2 hours of work for a higher paid, more efficient, VA. In this space is your sweet spot to get starting with absorbing the cost of hiring a virtual assistant.

#3 – Hiring a virtual assistant can cost less IF you set expectations and control the budget

When you are new to outsourcing, it’s natural to be afraid that you’ll receive unexpected bills from work that you didn’t even know was being done, or didn’t realize would take so long.

When you are getting started with a new virtual assistant, it’s a good idea to start with a pilot task and agree to guidelines about the number of hours. You can also ask for weekly reporting so you know exactly what was done and how long it took. Some VAs offer packages for specific types of tasks, in which case you don’t have to worry about actual hours so much.

If you’ve hired the right VA, you’ll quickly transition into a more trusting relationship. Still, whenever you outsource to a new person or even give your current virtual assistant a new type of work, it’s a good idea to invest more time in setting expectations up front until you both get a handle on it.

Go Hire Yourself a Virtual Assistant!

If you are making even a sliver beyond the money you absolutely must be making in your business, it’s time to hire a virtual assistant. Each hour they work for you will free up at least an hour, probably more, of your time. And you can invest this time in activities that will grow your business more quickly. Before you know it, you’ll be increasing the budget you have so your virtual assistant can do even more for you.

And if you aren’t sure what to delegate, be sure to download my free guide Build Your Business the Momstyle Way, where we talk about outsourcing and delegating as part of creating a profitable, flexible business.

Hiring a VA

Launch in Review – 30-Day Digital Product Challenge

Here at Momstyle, we recently launched the 30-Day Digital Product Challenge. I always like to share the results of my launch, in the spirit of transparency and learning. Because during a launch, things rarely go as you expect. This launch was no different.

The Product Concept

The idea for the 30-Day Digital Product Challenge emerged from me watching mamas get hung up somewhere in the digital product creation process. While it’s great that the Digital Product Workshop is available on-demand, it hasn’t sold incredibly well. And I was also seeing evidence that the women investing in the Workshop were not following through on the implementation.

I asked myself: How can I help women follow through on this goal all the way to the end? The answer I came up with was the 30-Day Digital Product Challenge.

(As an aside, product development for an online business has always been like this for me. Create. Launch. Learn. Adjust. Repeat.)

But while I have a bad habit of diving into creating before vetting my idea, this time I posted the idea in the Momstyle Your Business Facebook group for feedback. The first version of the idea offered the Workshop + Challenge at $167.

The feedback I received was that the daily action steps and support were the most valuable and also that $100 felt like an upper limit for what people were ready to invest. I un-bundled the Challenge from the Workshop and offered it at $97. I also decided to limit participation to 25 total people, so that I could be sure to provide a lot of value to all participants.

The Launch Plan

With the product idea in mind, I started forming a launch plan. Another goal I had for the month was to grow my email list and Facebook group. I’d had great results doing both in January using a free, 5-Day Challenge so I decided to adjust that challenge and offer it again.

I decided on 3 days instead of 5 for a couple of reasons.

  • First, during the first challenge, participation waned after the first couple of days. I felt I had built in too many brainstorming tasks and not enough planning and getting ready to implement tasks.
  • Second, I work Tuesday – Thursday. During the last challenge, there was a lot of interaction in the group on Monday and it was difficult for me to keep up with it, since it’s a day I mostly spend with my girls.

I also tweaked the challenge to make sure that the ending point of the challenge – planning out a single idea – flowed very nicely into the starting point of the paid challenge – implementing the idea.

The launch plan emerged as follows:

  • Promote 3-Day Challenge via Facebook ads, local blogger meet-up, and posting in Facebook groups.
  • Pre-announce 30-Day Challenge to email subscribers who have expressed interest in this type of offering. (This resulted in 2 sales very early, which was a huge confidence boost.)
  • Deliver 3-Day Digital Product Challenge (Tuesday / Wednesday / Thursday), showing up 100% and helping participants work through their ideas and roadblocks.
  • Promote 30-Day Challenge with Facebook posts and email.
  • As new participants register, update the sales page to indicate the number of spots left. Also add a comment to the thread in the Facebook group. This creates social proof that others see the offer as worthwhile.
  • At the last minute, added in 3 Facebook Live events to pilot this new option within Facebook groups. I made sure to reinforce parts of the free challenge and speak to the forthcoming elements of the paid challenge

(To learn more about planning your launch, check out the Digital Product Launch Planner.)

The Launch Stats

  • Email List Size – Approximately 500 total, 124 signed up for the 3-Day Challenge.
  • Approximately 40 challenge participants registered via Facebook ads ($225 spend).
  • Sales = 10 total, $970 in revenue.
  • Conversion rate = 2% on entire list, 8% on challenge list.

What I Learned

  • Running a challenge Tuesday – Thursday really helped me be present and available, especially on the first day of challenge, since Monday is not a work day for me.
  • Thinking through the connection between the two challenges made the offer and promotion feel like an expansion of the work we’d already done. This made it feel more comfortable for me to promote, and I’m assuming was a more natural transition from a buyer perspective as well.
  • I sense that the similarity in names between the 3-Day Challenge and the 30-Day Challenge could have caused some confusion. I’m not sure it was crystal clear what the difference was, and this could have impacted sales. I remember again and again that names are everything when it comes to digital products!
  • Inside the group, I received a critical piece of feedback that will help me rename the free challenge for the next time I offer it. The feedback was “I feel I have an idea that will actually sell.” Next time, I’ll also be swapping out day 3 for an action step to help hone in on an idea more likely to sell.
  • One thing still puzzles me. After a strong pattern of sales, there were 0 sales on the last day, despite an email and 3 Facebook group posts. I still have no idea why! I’ve never had this happen in my history of launching digital products. Typically, nearly half of my sales occur on the last day. Time will tell whether this was an anomaly or something to do with the launch plan itself.

As you can see, launching is about learning. I learn something every time I launch, no matter how the results match up against my goals.

What questions do you have about this launch? What lessons have you learned from running your own launches?

>>Learn more about launch sales

To learn more about planning your launch, check out the Digital Product Launch Planner.  You’ll learn exactly how to structure your offer to kick-start the selling process, how to communicate with your audience about your offer, and what to do before, during, and after your launch.

Click here to learn more about the Digital Product Launch Planner