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Build a Killer Online Brand for your Small Business

The first crucial step to any successful small business is a strong, recognizable brand. So, where do you start?

Right here with these tips on building a killer online brand that will stand the test of time and crush your competition:

1. BE ORIGINAL AND BE YOU – If you want your brand to stand the test of time, creating something from your heart will never go out of style. Avoid being trendy and instead, blaze your own trail if you want your brand to last and leave your competition in the dust.

2. DESCRIBE YOUR BRAND IN 3 ADJECTIVES – Describing your brand with 3 descriptive words is helpful to stay focused and effectively communicate your goal with your graphic designer. These could be words like luxurious, fun, classic, relatable, edgy, happy, minimal etc.

3. CHOOSING A NAME – If you want your brand to bigger than just you and operate as a separate entity, you should think twice about naming your business after yourself. After all, it will be an empire one day. When choosing a name, ask yourself these questions: What happens when you need to expand and hire employees? Are the domain and social accounts available? Is it similar to anything else out there? If I tell someone in person, will they be able to type it correctly? Do I like how it sounds?

4. HOW WILL YOU HELP? WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE? – Write down your mission and how you want to help your future customers. What sort of problems will you help them solve with your business or product? How will you add value to your customers lives? In business and in life, giving is much more important than taking.

5. HIRE A GRAPHIC DESIGNER – This is the #1 most important step for creating a killer online brand. Invest in the future of your business and leave it to the professionals. Your brand is so much more than pretty fonts and colors — it’s how you make your customers feel. Your brand experience is essentially an emotion that you must successfully manifest by strategically combining words, shapes and color. Now, that doesn’t sound so easy does it? Reach out to your friends, family and your online network for graphic designer referrals. Your time as a #BossBabe is exceptionally valuable, so do it right the first time.

6. HIRE A WEB DESIGNER – Similar to the last point, work with an experienced web designer to create a stunning responsive website. The world of eCommerce is rapidly growing in popularity and it’s your job to provide your customers with the best online experience possible. Besides, your website is where all of your audience will funnel to and if it isn’t mobile-friendly, you are setting yourself up for failure.

7. CONSISTENCY IS QUEEN – Slow and steady definitely win the race when it comes to building your brand. Take it day by day and remain consistent with your messaging, tone and visual look. Remember, that it takes time for your brand to “stick”, but once it does, it’s not going anywhere. Prioritize quality first, then switch your focus to quantity later. At the beginning, you want to build a strong foundation so your business has staying power. If you build your brand based on your passion and what YOU love, everything should feel second nature to you.

How To Make Work Days Feel Like Mini Vacations

How To Make Work Days Feel Like Mini Vacations

While we’re constantly inspired by women who pursue their passions full time, some of us are still in jobs that are… less than ideal.

We impatiently wait for our next weekend, and fantasize about our next three-day or (better yet) three-month vacation.

But what if we could make each day—even a Monday—a little more like a trip to a new destination?

You don’t have to wait until summer to get that much needed R&R, and you can do it without booking a flight or dipping into your savings. There are simple things that you can do to give your mind, body, and soul a break from your usual schedule.

1. Switch up your route to work (even if that means a longer commute)

It sounds counter-intuitive to extend your work day even more, but the simple act of breaking routine can make a huge difference in your day. You’re probably aware of the experience: performing repetitive tasks at work makes the clock slow down.

Well, so does a repetitive commute. It doesn’t take much—taking a different street to see some new architecture, catching a glimpse of the ocean or your city’s main river along your way, or cutting through a beautiful park can make you feel like you’ve taken a little trip each day.

Try this:

Do you make coffee at home on weekdays or go to the same place on your commute? Once a week, try stopping into a cafe in a different neighborhood on your way to work and give yourself an extra 20 minutes to sit down to people watch while you sip your espresso. Think of it as a Parisian morning—so chic and adventurous. In fact, buy yourself that croissant.

2. Chat with someone new

Whether it’s the coworker down the hall, the barista at your coffee shop, or that Meetup group you’ve been wanting to attend, make it a point to strike up a conversation with someone each day.

One of the best parts of being on vacation is meeting the locals and learning about their lives, but we tend to shuffle past people during our usual routine. Part of that is the fear of rejection—while vacation forces us to talk to strangers, we tend to fear someone rebuffing our attempts at conversation.

But did you know facing rejection actually makes us more confident?

Chances are there are some interesting stories right outside your door, and maybe even an unexpected professional connection.

Try this:

Talk to someone on your commute. We often bury our heads in a book or our iPhones, but if you take a bus or train to work each morning, try asking someone about what they’re reading. There’s something incredibly empowering about stepping out of your comfort zone and engaging.

3. Get adventurous at meal time

It’s so easy to get stuck in a routine. Smoothie, salad, pizza, repeat, anyone? We challenge you to try some new recipes from around the world. There are some incredibly delicious and simple recipes out there to transport you to a new place after 5pm. Try this spinach and butternut squash daal from our Contessa McKel Hill for a taste of India—no overseas flight required.

Does cooking sound too daunting with your workload? You can still get takeout from a restaurant you’ve never tried rather than ordering from that Chinese place down the street where they know your order or even have groceries delivered while you work. We’ve got a great round-up of food apps for you.

Try this:

We’re all career-driven so we’re often guilty of eating while working (or browsing Instagram). Try turning mealtime into a tech timeout. Switching your professional brain off once in awhile? Rejuvenating.

4. Let your podcast take you to another country

There are plenty of travel podcasts out there, but Zero to Travel will take you around the world with stories of fascinating world travelers and have you dreaming of Bali and Rome all day long. I promise your commute will never feel quite the same. Plus, it helps you plan for future adventures—looking forward on your commute will make you feel both productive and empowered.

Try this:

If your desk job means that you can work with headphones in, consider listening to a podcast (or even a book on tape) while you work. The same goes for your commute. Sure, it’s easier to listen to music when you’re just waking up, but making better use of those hours will mean you leave work feeling that much more inspired.

5. Treat yourself to a night at the spa

You know that body scrub that you never use? It’s time to break it out. Going to a spa is something that us ladies often save for vacation, but you don’t need to. Taking a mental break can lead to new ideas and a fresh perspective, which keep us present and excited about our day-to-day. In fact, your night in is a great time to think about your goals for the next week. So light some candles, flip on the Spotify “Spa” playlist, and turn up a hot bath. You deserve it.

Try this:

If you’re lucky enough to live in a city with a Korean spa (you’d be surprised how many of them do—ahem, Tacoma, WA), we can’t recommend trying one enough. Typically they run less than $25 for unlimited access, and you can often find one on your commute home, meaning you’ll be sitting in tubs during the worst point of rush hour. Trust us, a steam sauna is soul-changing.

6. Join a twitter chat or online workshop or class

If you’re like most women, you’re probably working long weeks and ready for a glass of wine and a few episodes of Transparent when you get home so committing to a weekly Ceramics class at 8pm sounds daunting.

The good news is you can explore new ideas and meet new people from home. Try joining one of Career Contessa’s monthly Career Chats on Twitter or signing up for an online workshop through General Assembly and Brit + Co.

This article was originally posted at career contessa by Alexandra Regan.


9 Ways You Can Personally Boost Your Teams Morale Today

It’s no secret that team morale ebbs and flows — with an emphasis on ebb at the end of the year.

Whether you’re an entry level assistant or manager, there are simple ways you can crank up the feel goods.

We’d been working a seemingly endless series of late nights and weekends and, as I looked around the room, I saw defeated looks on everyone’s faces.

We were tired and energy was noticeably low. We’d once been a quick-to-laugh, outgoing, and enthusiastic team, but that was no longer the case.

You’ve been there too, haven’t you?

Whether it was because of long hours, stress, repeated disappointments, or other circumstances, I’m sure we’ve all experienced situations of low team morale.

It’s no fun, I know. Productivity slows. Patience declines. Everything becomes grey and sluggish.

I can’t promise that you’ll never experience low team morale again.

However, here are a few easy and quick things you can do to boost spirits when they’ve abruptly dipped:

If you’re a member of a team:

1. Say Thank You Often And Mean It

This may seem minor, but reminding your teammates that you’re grateful for their help and presence goes a long way – particularly when everyone’s motivation has dipped.

I know that a few words of appreciation are sometimes all the encouragement I need to keep going. People want and need to know that their efforts are meaningful and not going unnoticed. It’s weird when you open the door for someone and they don’t thank you, right?

If your teammates are going out of their way to help you and/or the team, the least you can do is recognize their efforts and tell them thank you.

Besides, when team morale is low, that’s when it’s most important to stick together as a team. Tough times are much easier to overcome when everyone is supporting each other.

2. The best way to a co workers heart? Yep.

You can’t go wrong bringing food. We all know the power of food too: its ability to build community and bring smiles to people’s faces.

On a past project, for example, my team had weekly status update meetings with the client each Tuesday morning and, at one point, it essentially entailed the team explaining to the client why the project was delayed week after week.

The team was finding unexpected bugs in the code and working tirelessly to resolve the issues, but, understandably, the client was not pleased and these status update meetings were incredibly tense.

They also left everyone feeling defeated. One week, however, my project manager had a great idea to bring in bagels for the meeting. And it was like magic! Everyone’s spirits seemed to lift and morale increased dramatically.

So bring food when morale is low. It’ll do wonders.

3. Crack stupid jokes

Colleagues have sent me gifs or memes making fun of our work situation in the past and it has always been exactly what I needed. What kind of humor is appropriate will, of course, depend on your team’s culture and personality, but who doesn’t feel good from a little laughter and humor?

If you’re a manager of a team:

When you’re leading a team, you have an even greater responsibility – and opportunity – to boost team morale. Along with the above, here a few strategies that my managers and I have successfully employed:

1. Say thank you often and mean it

This is important enough to say again.

I think it’s safe to say that we all feel good when our superior takes the time to recognize our work and remind us that we’re doing great work. When morale is especially dismal, this should be done even more overtly and even more often.

As a manager, your words can be a compelling motivator for the rest of the team.

2. Let people stretch out

A common reason I’ve seen morale drop is because of long hours, but sometimes it’s unavoidable. Moreover, usually the greater disappointment is not so much because of the long hours, but the need to cancel plans with friends or other fun activities.

Subsequently, giving people autonomy over their schedule and how or when they complete their work is a great way to counteract unfortunate situations.

I definitely appreciate and have more energy to finish my work when I’m able to take breaks. When I have a lot of work, it’s nice to still be able to head out and grab dinner with friends before heading back to finish work.

I’ll still get my work done, and my average level of happiness is higher. {Click to Tweet}

3. Celebrate the smallest wins

It’s easy to allow the team to keep their heads down and keep chugging along, but celebrating small wins is a great way to inject some positivity.

The celebration doesn’t have to be a full-blown affair either. Maybe it’s just an afternoon ice cream break or passing out thank you cards to everyone on the team.

Celebrating the small wins can break up long, tiring stretches of working.


4. Be honest and forthcoming 

Don’t pretend that the tough situation is okay. Acknowledge that the status quo is not ideal. Tell the team that you know they are working hard, morale is low, and energy is fading.

On top of that, try to be transparent about what’s going on behind the scenes and, if possible, tell the team about what you are trying to do make the situation better.

Being authentic and forthcoming will show the team that you genuinely care about them and want to boost spirits.

5. Loyalty counts so protect the team

Frequently, morale dips in relation to added pressure from leadership.

Leadership is asking and expecting the team to complete some goal and, even though the team putting forth its best efforts, leadership continues to exert pressure or raise expectations.

As a manager then, it’s important to protect the team: to push back when leadership suggests unrealistic turnaround times, to stand up for the team when leadership unfairly criticizes the team’s ability and effort, to remove barriers standing in the way of the team, etc.

Knowing that my manager has my back has motivated me to keep going, even in stressful times.

6. Lead by example

This one is pretty self-explanatory, but especially important when morale is low.

The team needs their manager to set an example and continue to be motivating and positive. When I’ve felt beaten down at work, but then saw my manager remain upbeat and steadfast in her work, I’ve immediately felt encouraged to follow in her footsteps.

As a manager, you set the tone for the team. It’s your responsibility to set positive example and lead the team through tough times.

Whether you are a team member, a manager, or a little of both, there are things you can do to quickly raise morale on a team. Your team will thank you for it, too.


Six Secretes To Making Flawless Profit Driving Sales Pages

Six Secretes To Making Flawless Profit Driving Sales Pages

When writing a sales letter or page, it’s important to place special focus on creating an impressive and attention-grabbing start with your opening sentence or paragraph.

If you don’t start it correctly, it’s highly unlikely that your readers will get past the first paragraph before deleting your email and categorizing it as spam.

Six Secretes To Making Flawless Profit Driving Sales Pages


If you are selling security systems, you can open your sales letter by referring to the terrorist attacks in Paris (for example) and pointing out the need for more security in homes and public places. From there, you can then proceed to emphasizing what using your products could to in increasing the safety of your reader and his family.

Current events stick to mind because they’re events that actually did happen in the real world and they could happen to you, too. Current events present real threats and promises either of which you could use to emphasize the need for the products or services you’re selling through your sales page.


Statistics always exercise great influence on a person’s opinion because they can reflect the majority of the public’s opinion and they’re a product of careful study and research. By using statistics as an opening in your sales letter, you’re able to immediately establish credibility for your company. It not only gives them a reason to read more of your sales letter but it also convinces them to believe in you as well.

The statistics you’ll use in your sales letter must be easily understandable and can immediately convey your message. It must be directly related to your products and services. The facts and figures from these statistical reports must also have been professionally computed by experts. Be sure to provide proper credits so your readers can confirm their validity and reliability right away.


Think of the number one problem that your target market is suffering from and something that your products or services could immediately solve. Summarize it in one to two sentences and your readers are sure to be hooked.

Say you’re selling portable sewing machines. If your target market is those who sew for recreational purposes, you can start by addressing the problem of space. Sewing machines generally require you to use a certain amount of space for them, but that’s not going to be a problem with portable sewing machines. With such an item, your reader will be able to sew right in the comfort of their bedroom without having to rearrange the furniture.


Another great way of opening your sales letter is by asking a question. Asking a question allows you to directly and immediately address your reader and catch his attention. But the question can’t just be any question obviously. It has to be related to the topic of your sales letter, but more importantly than that, it must be a question that will make the reader wish to know more.

Say you’re selling office software and your target market is composed of home-based professionals and business owners. Your question could be something like ìIs getting your numbers straight the hardest part of managing your home based business?î Math is something many people find notoriously hard but your office software could solve that particular problem.


Items that are considered necessities would benefit with a problem-and-solution type of opening but for items considered as frivolities or those that merely satisfy wants rather than needs, they might have no problems to solve. What they do have however are benefits, and that’s what you can use when opening your sales letter.

If you are selling gourmet pet food, you could start your sales letter by stating how your food products could forge a stronger bond between you and your pet. Gourmet pet food may not be a necessity, but it can make your pet feel good and appreciated in no way that ordinary pet food could achieve.


Lastly, you can use the power of imagery to effectively start your sales letter. This works especially well when aesthetics is a major factor of your product. Examples of such products and services are travel packages, jewelries, and clothes. While you don’t need to write an elaborate and overly long description, the words you do use should all create a stunning image that will reinforce the need to buy what youíre selling.

How To Fire Yourself- (And Make Way More Money)

How To Fire Yourself- (And Make Way More Money)

Firing someone is never easy.

Firing yourself is even tougher.

You’re in control.

You know what you’re doing.

And nobody ever will love your business more than you.

But you’ve got to release the reins.

People are counting on you, and you can’t deliver when you’re in your business instead of on your business.

Create structure, hire smart, and leverage every penny possible.

1. Iron out your business needs

Make an itemized list of your current schedule, activities, and everything you do for your business.

Getting clear on the tasks you need taken care of allow you to see what needs to be done.

Let’s get focused: anything that does not immediately generate revenue is something that you should not be putting your time and attention on.

2. Surround yourself with excellent people

Having fired yourself, you are no longer the jack of all trades.

You are now the CEO.

It’s you’re your job to delegate your prior responsibilities to a supportive team of people who are excellent at what they do.

Yes, yes, my love, I know.

You can do everything, and you’ve proven it with the name you’ve built for yourself.

But you can’t do everything effectively and exceptionally well when you’re jack of all trades and mistress of none.

Hiring out the tasks to people who are smarter (and gasp – better) than you gets projects done faster and more effectively. And it saves you the headache of doing it all by yourself.

3. Become the visionary.

As the business CEO, your job is to make sure you create the systems and processes needed for your business to flow smoothly.

You’re making sure you have a sales cycle, a sales process, administrative connections, and marketing on fleek.

At this point, coordinate with a strong business or sales coach to create the infrastructure needed to carry out your vision.

Focus on your primary specialty – the core skill or deliverable you fell in love with and wanted to perfect and master for your business – and work on being the person who executes that at the highest level, along with keeping all the cogs in alignment for growth and scalability. You’ve got this girl!

Four Hidden Ways To Turn Your Email List Into Gold

Four Hidden Ways To Turn Your Email List Into Gold

Do you have a mailing list? I hope so.

When was the last time you had a look at how profitable the list is for you and made sure everything was up to date?

You’re likely one of the many people who’ve set up their list, got busy, and then forgot about it for a while.

There are many things you can do right now to start making more money with your mailing list.

1. List Checkup

Go through every single message you have in your autoresponder series.

This may take you a while to get through if you have a lot of messages set up, but it’s worth it.

Recently I switched my website format over to a wordpress site and deleted a lot of the pages from the other design.

I had my autoresponder setup to refer to articles on my older site and with the update these were out of date and needed fixing, so I had to go back in and change the links.

If your series of messages are too long and it’s just too much to handle by yourself hire a VA to help.

2. Opt-in Location

Do people know about your list?

Don’t assume everyone will find you because you have an opt-in box in one or two locations on your website.

When setting up your list and describing it you’ll want to make sure that you deliver exactly what you offer then and beyond.

A bullet-point list works well to let people know what your list offers without requiring too much of their attention to get them to read.

Many people make their list stand out by offering up a free ebook or report for signing up to the list.

Other ideas are offer up an audio or a video.

Whatever you offer make sure it is of high valuable and something that makes signing up for your list irresistible.

3. Add landing pages

You should be using double opt-ins to make sure your list has really requested to sign up.

After the initial sign-up you will be able to direct them to a landing page.

Make sure that landing page they come to grabs their attention and tells them to confirm, you could use something like this:

IMPORTANT: Please check your email inbox and confirm your subscription so that we can send you the information you requested.

Use that landing page to make an offer on your own product or offer an affiliate product.

Or if you have a service based-business and want them to get to know you better then direct them to your articles page.

Once they confirm in their email you will be given another opportunity to create a specific landing page.

Use that page to make another offer, or lead them to your website to read more information or articles.

You’ve got people’s attention once they get to your landing page and they HAVE to go somewhere once they’re done – it might as well be somewhere you can suggest to them so that you benefit from it.

4. Promote

Think of the places where you promote your list.

Is it just in one little box on your website?

There are many other places that you should be using to promote your mailing list.

Write articles that you submit to directories that have a bio leading to your opt-in page.

Make a special offer in your signature on forums (if they allow it)

Add a signature to your emails that tells people why they need to sign up for your list

Blog about your list and why they should join it

5. Contact as often as possible

You’ve heard this before but it’s time for a reminder.

If your prospects don’t hear from you on a regular basis then they will forget about you and why the signed up in the first place.

How often you contact them will depend on what your list is about but it’s often said that you must be making contact at least once a month if you want to be remembered.

Many topics will require you to contact your list once a week and this is perfectly acceptable to them because they asked for this information.

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