How to Find The Heroes in Your Network

"It takes a village to raise a child."

I bet you've heard that phrase before. This African saying reflects more about humans than just a tip for childcare. It's about community, about working together and helping out.

When you're in business for yourself, it's hard to see the benefits of community. We worry about the competition instead, or about who's going to badmouth our efforts.

Today I want to share two community project stories to inspire you and remind you that there is always another side to that competition:

When The Competition Chips In

Last week, I ran a special campaign at Fluent Language. I set out to share excellent Black Friday deals. Not just any deals, but the ones I dreamed of. In order to create this, I reached out to four companies that I admire. They're fellow language creators.

Each one of them came together to work with me and provide pictures, discounts and thanks for my customers. Without their generosity, I could have never put together the awesome list of deals that I found - and as a result, all of us felt the benefits.

Lesson learnt: Reach out to your colleagues and put together a joint promotion - their light will shine on you, too!

When You Activate Superpowers in Your Friends

My mastermind buddy Kathy Pine set herself the target of raising $8,500 to produce the Inspired Year Planner on Kickstarter. She only had a few weeks to put together the project and really kick it off, and found herself frazzled with so much to do.

At our recent Mastermind meeting, we jumped in. We pretty much bullied Kathy into taking our help with copywriting, video editing, promotion, anything. As a result, the project reached 100% funded yesterday and each of us got to show off some amazing skills. We have a fan in Kathy now - everyone wins!

Lesson learnt: If you're overwhelmed with a big project, you've got to reach out!! Ask friends, family, colleagues. You might be surprised by what they can do.

You should also check out her project on Kickstarter today!

If you're in the UK, pledge $35, select "no reward attached" and I will arrange special free shipping for you.

What these stories show is that you should not feel alone whenever you are stuck.

Get out of your rut, call in the cavalry! Your network is full of people who are bursting with creativity, wanting to help you, ready to offer something.

So...when was the last time you reached out?

3 Tips For Making Best Business Friends

I’m not the kind of person who spent most of her younger years dreaming of entrepreneurship, success as a business founder or even freelance working. I can’t imagine myself doing well on Dragons’ Den. Now that I’ve decided to run with it, this means problems I never knew would come. I need advice! How do I create my first business website? Where did all the hours in the week go? And most importantly: Why am I not a massive success after the first year?!

If you have ever asked yourself one of these questions, we’re in the same boat. Looking for advice, guidance, and a helpful BBF - a business best friend. I have found that the difference between success and failure is often just whether you try or not. In those situations, the BBF is invaluable. In this post, I will tell you about one the most important mentor in my life, and the kinds of business things we’ve discussed.

Rule 1 Of A Good Business Friendship

It has to be right for your personality. I’m not a business suit kind of person, so my favourite mentor and discuss projects on the phone, while I sit on the bedroom floor in my PJs and the cat climbs all over me. We only see each other face to face a few times a year, but our relationship is well-established and we’ll discuss whatever is the current issue. I can tell her when I’m not ready to hear all of her opinions, when I need to vent and bring my own thoughts out into the open.

Rule 2 Says You Should Benefit As Much As They Do

Your BBF can ask you questions and tell you about what’s going on in their business just as much as you want to talk to them. I believe that this partnership means you're not the “receiver of all worldly wisdom” - you're challenged to think, share, and grow your conclusions in discussion. No matter if you're working with a fellow entrepreneur or you're hiring an experienced coach, each session should be the full focus for both of you.

Getting actively involved in my BBF's projects and taking an interest in their success is what will make them more interested in me. And in fact, the support and interest that I have for their business has taught me the most important lessons.

Rule 3 Helps You Get In For The Long Run

The learning process does not “click” and you magically learn. The best relationships develop over time and both parties need to put a bit of commitment in at the start and throughout. Keep your BBF up to date with what you are working on, planning to do, ask regular questions and listen to what they have to say.

Not all advice is great advice, but the opportunity to watch someone succeed and grow with their own business is like a Harvard MBA - pretty much priceless.

Here are some things that I have discussed with my BBF in the past.

  • What should I name my book, which names have the best impact and what sounds good?
  • Given the fact that both of our products can be considered luxuries to most people, how do we set an attractive price without undercutting ourselves?
  • What kind of thinking gets you through a low - and what’s really damaging?
  • If you’ve got funds, when and what are you supposed to invest in? What’s a gamble, what’s commitment?
  • When we launch a new and innovative product, what are the challenges in marketing it?
  • When am I supposed to stop working and remember that I’m not superwoman?

One of my total BBFs is my mum. I grew up in a family business, and even though my family's business has been going for hundreds of years, the challenges they face are often really similar to mine. It’s such an education for me to see that even this business which rests on hundreds of years of tradition faces challenges that make every owner worry it could all be over next year. In your own businesses, the challenges never stop. The fight comes with the territory, and I saw it first hand through this mentoring relationship.

How To Find Your Business Partner and BBF

Look around you: Who do you talk to on a regular basis, who do you trust and who’s going to give you an honest opinion about your latest idea?

Family and friends can be taken for granted, but some might reveal deep insights into business. It also pays to work with an experienced coach, someone who has made it their mission to give advice and guidance, and to help you illuminate your own path. Your answers are always inside of you.

Remember that the best coaches aren't here to tell you all the answers, but to help you find the right steps forward. This is how I work with my clients, becoming the BBF and helping you push through self-doubt and discomfort. We work 1-to-1 to create a focused space for you to get into CEO mode and grow your business in the right way.

Want a little more insight and support? Then let's talk! You can join the Teaching HQ newsletter for automatic updates on workshops, or email me todayfor a free chat about your teaching business.

Picking Perfect Colours: How The Fluent German Retreat Got Its Look

Maybe 4 years ago you could get away with a bland website and a picture taken at the local copyshop, but these days...Nuh uh. It's visual brand time. Most online brands these days look just as good as they write, and the websites of gurus, experts and even your local garage seem to have had weeks of design work put into them.

Visual identity has become a hot topic on the internet, and even for online teachers and freelancers it can pay to keep your profiles looking slick. For me, design is something I can do "when I need to", but it certainly isn't my zone of genius.

I started out with great photography and a good website template -- no thoughts about my "signature" anything. Recently I've been learning on the job. You can see clear development of a visual identity for the Fluent German Retreat, for example, with "allowed fonts" and a colour palette that I use consistently.

As always, the mantra for a solopreneur is "get it done before it's perfect", and I do rely on captivating you lovely reader with my writing style and the quality of what I share - sometimes more than my hot typeface. Brand and personality in a nutshell.

colour

So what is an easy way to get that look for less?

Signature Colours

In the coffee shop queue, waiting for my drink, I noticed the tattoo on my queue neighbour's arm: a large flower. It went perfectly well with her palm tree print top. And as I cast my eye over what else she was wearing, I couldn't believe just how much of a signature her look was putting together: floral print rucksack, floral print purse, brightly coloured shoes. I really liked the look and it stood out to me, coming together perfectly. That was signature look right there, and made me want to run off and purchase floral everything.

In recent weeks, I've been hearing a lot about the idea of a signature colour. It started on the Happier Podcast, where Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft discussed how a signature colour can do a lot for personal happiness and a sense of identity.

Our signature can be a colour, pattern, a font or a specific style of writing.

My own signature look is still in development, but consistent use of colour and pattern throughout a brand is something I can really connect to. It fits in with the tag line idea I created as part of the Savvy Brand Toolkit, creating a way to some up the essence of who you are, why you work and what it does for people in just a few words.

Where to Look for a Signature Colour

Start with that tag line concept, the idea of summing up your whole enterprise in a few words. Then working from that, the next step is to find a visual way of communicating this.

  1. Is there a picture or a memory that you really treasure? A colour you love wearing? A print that you adore?

  2. Whose brand stands out to you out there in the world of marketing? What do you love to buy, and what do their own logo and colours communicate to you? Which messages connect with your own beliefs?

  3. Is there something that you want to communicate to your own clients, such as "I'm fun!" or "I'm reliable and punctual". If yes, think about an image that would communicate this - ideally not one of those stock photos of people in suits staring at computer screens.

  4. What's your style? Do you like wearing casual clothes or dressing up? Your mood is communicated by what you wear every single day, and so your company can dress up and express itself in the same way.

Take the concept of the signature colour likely, feel free to play around with colour scheme generators and work with a few colours that you like at first. Over time, the signature colour will emerge.

The Fluent German Retreat takes place in a beautiful, natural and green place in Germany, so its signature colours are calm greens. The Retreat is special and designed to give learners a bit of a break from the everyday pressures of life, so I chose fonts that helped me create a calm look overall. The owl communicates "wisdom" and "nature".

The Fluent German Retreat takes place in a beautiful, natural and green place in Germany, so its signature colours are calm greens. The Retreat is special and designed to give learners a bit of a break from the everyday pressures of life, so I chose fonts that helped me create a calm look overall. The owl communicates "wisdom" and "nature".

The colours were inspired by this beautiful image of our Retreat destination, darkened a little here.

image.jpg

You can read more about the idea of developing a personal brand, and go through my proven process that has helped dozens of teachers set up their own systems, in the Savvy Brand Toolkit.

Do You Have A Signature Colour?

If you've been playing with design concepts and colours on your website recently, drop me a comment and a link below. Don't be shy - I am curious to see what your materials communicate!

Can You Find Students On Teaching Platforms?

Recently, a student of my Udemy course Live Lesson Strategies for Online Tutors and Teachers asked an interesting question in the course. Like so many other new teachers, she's looking at a lot of tasks to complete. Website building, setting up social media accounts, writing a new blog - it's overwhelming.

And all that work stands in contrast to the potential for finding a student over on online teaching platforms like italki. You wonder if those are worth your time. 

So my course participant asked the important question?

Would it be difficult to get new students who are willing to pay a decent price per class as there are already so many teachers offering competitive rates?

Here are my thoughts on the matter:

Some Platforms Are Good..

row of houses.jpeg

The best time to join any big teacher platform is when you are starting out and working on getting your process sorted. It can help you get the cash flowing quickly, and without investing a lot into technology or email systems. The best platforms also have some protection in place for you as a teacher, such as a basic cancellation policy.

In short, being on a platform helps you in the following ways:

  • You will build up a critical mass of learners relatively quickly, so that the money can start rolling in before you feel like a "certified authority"
     
  • You will be able to build your confidence as a new teacher, get feedback and find what students love most about you
     
  • You will be able to work 1-to-1 with a large variety of people, allowing you to figure out which ones you love working with and which ones are not your ideal students. Every individual has a style of working with people, and it will take a little time to find and proudly claim who you're here to work with

..But Not As Good As Building Your Own Brand

It's undeniable that offering your wares in any marketplace means playing by their rules. This is true for making online courses on Udemy, finding students on italki, or any other platform. 

I know people who are fully booked and have never been on a directory, and they teach minority languages to boot! It's a question of creativity, confidence and knowing that you're great.

Here Are The Downsides

  • Your learners' loyalty is often to the platform and not to you as a teacher, which can make it harder to build up a good relationship with students. The relationship matters a lot, because you are looking for your ideal student, a person who is a joy to work with. If you have no idea who that could be, I recommend that you work through the ideal student parts of the Savvy Brand Toolkit to figure out who they are, where they are and how you'll talk to them.
     
  • The terms & conditions you can set for how you deal with your customers are run by the platform, not by you. So for example, they might not like you exchanging emails outside of the established system.
     
  • You are doing this because your ultimate goal is independence, and working with a different platform may constrict you too much. If it feels wrong, don't go there.
     
  • Most platforms don't restrict what you can charge, but be aware that the system is designed to make you look like a product and price will always factor into your learners' perceptions. 

How To Make It Work For Yourself

The key is that "native and qualified" won't be enough in a crowded marketplace - check out the slides on marketing and definitely consider looking into the Savvy Brand Process to find out more - downloading these videos will also be helpful.

To work with that ideal student, I recommend building your booking system based on the 5 Step Booking Process which is designed to create a solid and sustainable relationship where students don't think of you as their "trial teacher". In a good and ongoing relationships, you have set up your system so that both parties can depend on each other.

It Is Not Difficult To Build Your Own Website

Of course, you'll have heard about Wordpress.org, a popular system that will help you build any website and do anything online. It does have a learning curve, and those of you who don't want to spend a few days fiddling with tutorials are probably put off right now.

My website builder of choice is Squarespace (which is what runs the site you are reading right now). 

I've been using Squarespace for four years and even use it to host the Creative Language Learning Podcast. I like it because it's extremely user friendly and it's an all-in-one solution, meaning you don't have to worry about any of the usual questions such as plug-ins, hosts or customizing your theme.

What Should You Do?

Personally, I used italki for a bit when I started and also Tutor Hunt, but never used it as my main source of students. I also built my own website from the start. There was no email list and no fancy opt-in, but that didn't matter. It gave interested customers a direct way of getting in touch with me. Think "back to basics", not "bells and whistles".

Ultimately, of course this is your own decision. There are many success stories of teachers who found dozens of new students on italki, but equal numbers of teachers who are frustrated because those are not their ideal learners.

Are you currently working with a platform? Or finding students in other ways? Leave a comment or find our teacher group on Facebook to discuss.

Dealing With Overwhelm In Solo Business

All right you guys, story time. Today I want to tell you about a harmful cycle that many solo businesses can get themselves into. Maybe let's call it the Forget'n'Freak.

Why Are You Doing This?

First, you look around you and start with your vision. You set ambitions for yourself. You create a dream, a special idea of who you are and what you are working towards. Vision building is essential for any small business. It's more than just "where do you see yourself in 5 years?". It's the fuel that you need to get up in the morning.

Then, you look around yourself. You see hundreds of people following their own vision, sharing the ideas, and looking for advice. This makes sense, because you are looking for advice too.

The "Forget"

But THEN you realise something. The sources of advice, those places where you're looking, they're all way beyond your little vision. Sod "I want to quit my job" - these guys are making six figures! They have set up amazing websites, their lives look awesome.

Looks like they're better than you, so maybe it's time to reach for their thing.

This point is where a shift happens and your vision starts getting corroded. You buy into another one on top of yours. You start neglecting your own ideas of what you're working towards.

The "Freak"

Unsurprisingly, this is a stressful venture. When you've got those ambitions to chase, you feel like you must speed up. When you feel like you are not good enough, you go looking for more.

And when you cycle through all that learning, you look around and realize that whatever you're feeling cannot possibly be the vision you started chasing. You aren't there yet. You must learn more.

You must put everything into action, unfiltered, as vague as it might be, it's clear that only hard work is keeping you from that vision.

There's no shortage of instruction available from a million people. How to do this, how to get subscribers, conversion rate bootcamp. It's clear that purchasing this one course will give you the way to do this. Or maybe that one over there. Or maybe...well, you don't know and you're exhausted.

This is the point where businesses start crumbling. Yes, there's such a thing of too much instruction, too many courses. There's such a thing as losing sight of what you are doing this for. I've gone through it many times, and I know how tough it can feel. You forgot who you are, and then you freak when you remember. Forget'n'freak.

The difference between crumbling and standing strong at this point is not in any course or workshop (not even mine). It is all about who you are and where the original vision is at.

Because the courses and the teaching are not the problem, but forgetting your initial vision stops you in your tracks. Losing track of who you are is difficult.

So let's take a second and say this all together:

ROADMAPS DON'T WORK

Your Action Point for the week is simply to give your initial vision some breathing space. Remember what it was that you set out to do when you were right at the beginning, naming your business or taking your first student. Write it down. Get back to yourself.

I hope this article resonated with you guys. Go ahead and comment, feel free to share is most important to you about your vision and your style.

For regular free advice and all the best articles I write and find, join the Teaching HQ Bulletin today. 

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Being Stuck Sucks! Three Invisible Roadblocks for Solopreneurs

A few days ago, I asked the Teaching HQ Bulletin gang to tell me one thing:

Did you set yourself a goal in January?

If you have your vision for the lifestyle business of your dreams, the next step is to set some goals and think about the path to getting there. You know how warm and motivating it feels to have a clear direction. Here are the goals some of you shared with me:

  • you finally want to publish your first book
  • you want to see your writing published on a high-traffic website
  • you want to quit your job and start being an independent online teacher full-time
  • you want to build an online course that can deliver for thousands

Are you sick of reading and want to see the whole post as a video? Sure thing!

So now we're on April 1 (no joke), where are you at?

Goals are tricky. They're essential to have around, but you'll never quite know what will happen when you go for it. So now the first quarter is over, it's time to come up for air from busy bee mode and ask yourself the question: "How far have I come in the first 3 months

Let me just take a guess here: You may not be as far along the road to success as you envisaged. Many of you tell me that you feel worried. Almost every solopreneur falls behind, gets discouraged and strays from the goals they set themselves. 

So what gives? Why are you stuck?

One thing that I have learnt in my years of solo business building is that knowing the roadblocks is the first step to getting over them. With that in mind, let me go ahead and document three major roadblocks that you might be facing right now.

They are particularly tricky because you may not be able to see them easily. When you have a cough or your internet is down, the roadblock is right in front of you. But when you suffer from one of these three, it takes concentration to realize what's happening.

So take a minute and read on. That time putting this awareness on your own progress will pay off richly.

The Roadblocks Solopreneurs In Our Industry Run Into

  • Being Brand Un-Savvy

You can be a brilliant tutor with real dedication to your students and a knack for writing materials, but if you haven't found a way to communicate that genius it's easy to be taken for a commodity. Brand is at the heart of how you communicate, so that clarity can make a difference between your success and failure.

For example, it can be easy to get stuck in a trap of specialising in one specific country. Why is this a big risk? Because putting all your bets on one specific country can cause problems in the global economy. For example, I've heard from several online teachers that  "My market is in Brazil and the Brazilian Real has dropped and now no one can afford my $ prices!" If this is you and you thought you had your "I teach Brazilians" niche nailed down, it's time to start revisiting what a true niche is about.

For a solid brand foundation, work with the Savvy Brand Toolkit. This digital toolkit is a course to help you find the perfect students, have fun and get better pay. It is at the heart of all the work I do with you guys, because your brand is the way to truly stand out in a busy marketplace.

It's specifically written and designed for online teachers, and now available in three tiers to fit in with any budget.

  • Perfectionism

If I had a pound for every single time a client tells me "I can't go out and share my website until I have a free download/email list/magic gerbil", I swear I'd be sorted for the rest of the year. Perfectionism is a creeping risk in any undertaking (I wrote about it in language learning too), but for you as a solopreneur it's the toughest challenge. When there is only you and the world, it's incredibly hard to imagine others could see your work for something that you cannot see. But actually, once you get that customer focus straight you will be producing work that is exactly what others need, even when there's a typo on page two.

Believe me, nothing is a better perfectionism cure than becoming vulnerable. Exhibit 1: This post has a video, even though I haven't been able to find time to make one. I cannot provide you with a perfect video right now, but if I put that on the "when I'm ready" list, I might never make you one at all!

  • Bad Project Management

Back when project management in a large organization was my office job, I learnt something two important facts about myself. 

First, I love it when something gets done. I get a glowing, successful feeling when a task is completed and love seeing progress on a roadmap. Second, I am crazy optimistic. If there is an additional task or purpose that seems like a great idea in the moment, I tend to go ahead and add it on there.

Have you ever heard of scope creep? Wikipedia explains it like this:

uncontrolled changes or continuous growth in a project's scope. This can occur when the scope of a project is not properly defined, documented, or controlled. It is generally considered harmful.

Scope creep is real and it's extremely dangerous to solopreneurs, because there isn't anyone around to stop us. Even if your added idea for an advertising campaign all about dating sounds great right now, there will still be just you to execute it (outsourcing doesn't work that way unless you invest a lot).

So with that in mind, the key is not just in setting smart goals but also in training yourself to making sure you stay committed once their novelty wears off. 

That's The Three Major Blocks - What Now?

Let me re-cap the three roadblocks I often see for solopreneurs like us when we are working towards our big, audacious goals:

  1. Being Brand Un-Savvy
  2. Perfectionism
  3. Bad Project Management

It's easy to get lost along the way, and the bad news is that this list of three is only the tip of the iceberg. But fortunately, you don't have to get around each block on your own. 

There are many ways of getting over the roadblocks, from setting milestones to hiring a mentor for accountability. Many teachers commit by joining Mastermind groups, and I know that my own group has done absolute wonders for me.

Which of the three is the trickiest roadblock for you?

How have you started taking action? Let me know in the comments below, I'd love to hear more about what's getting you stuck right now and how you're beating it!

A Step-By-Step Guide To Pitching and Writing Powerful Guest Posts

Have you ever noticed that the work we do on our website and our promo materials is a bit like event planning?

Imagine that the brand new ebook you'll give away to your email subscribers is a party you're hosting. You'll have to let people know, invite them to the party.

You'll need to get some food on the table - that's your blog content.

And of course, host the party in a super cool space - that could be the design.

Now: No one's going to know about that party over at your website if you don't invite them. But how fantastic would it be if you only had to phone one friend, and they'd instantly bring their whole circle of wonderful, smart, interested friends?

pitching guest posts

This is where one of the ultimate steps in any good marketing plan should come in. Cue the guest blog post.

Why Guest Post?

Guest posts can do amazing things for your traffic, your authority and access to an existing audience. They're free, and more effective than PPC advertising, and more durable than social media. Oh, and the search engines will love you for them too.

The problem?

Getting a guest post into the right kind of blog is not that easy anymore. Good bloggers are able to tell when something is genuine. Check out the following lines:

"We will create high value content to deliver for your readers."

"I’ve been following your blog for quite some time now, and I love your content and the lessons you share with your readers. Every time I read a post, I feel like I’m able to take a single, clear lesson away from it, which is why I think it’s so great."

"Our writers can offer you a unique and exclusive article on any topic related to translation, language, freelancing... "

These three quotes are all directly taken from pitch emails I've received. These are generic, dull, and barely credible lines. When your target blogger receives a bunch of them every day, it's time for you to step up and cut through the noise.

Don't be discouraged - in the next few lines I'm going to give you so many hot tips for landing a great guest post that you'll be excited to get started today.

Step 1: Approach Influential Bloggers The Right Way

Let's assume that you already have someone in mind whose blog will be a great platform for you to show what you've got. It could be a big name like Tim Ferriss, or it could be a big thoughtleader in your
niche.

It is not enough to simply pull a bunch of names from a list of "influential bloggers". You have got to read a few posts. The best guest post writers are people who are long-time fans or readers of a blog, because they really get the style. And before you even get that chance, rest assured that this blogger will know within seconds if you have no idea what their blog is actually about.

The first thing you should do now is to find out if the blog of your choice even takes guest posts. Look for the guest post instructions page (here is mine for example). These pages are often called "Contribute", "Write For This Blog", "Guest Post", "Work With Us" etc. If there isn't a page like that, see if you can find the blog owner on social media and connect very loosely, perhaps respond to a tweet.

After that, it's up to you. Either email directly, complete the contact form on their site, or DM them on Twitter with a short "Hey, I'm a fan and I wonder if you accept guest posts? Could I send you my idea and pitch by email?"

And here's how to cut through the noise:

  • Address the blogger or editor directly. If they're your host, you should know their name.
  • Introduce yourself and share your story. Talk about why you like their blog in particular, how you're using it, maybe mention something specific. The key here is to show them that you didn't just pull this name from a list of random "influencers".
  • Share your story - why is their blog relevant to you?
  • Know who their audience is and what they want to read.
  • Okay, this is important: Don't email a fully written article. It's usually preferred that you suggest a few titles instead of expecting the blogger to invest a lot of time in reading your whole post.

This is a chance to get creative and make another topic relevant to yours. For example, a German tutor who works with teenagers as after-school trainer can talk about steps to avoid overwhelm in the classroom or stay safe on school exchange. Or a travel agent can talk about Germany on a German language blog.

Step 2: Write A Great Guest Post Draft

Just like some podcasts don't have guest interviews, some blogs don't accept guest posts. So if it's a reject email, don't be disappointed, thank the blogger for replying and bookmark them for future connections like interviews.

If you've got the green light, well done! I bet you've already got your fingers on the keyboard as the ideas race through your mind.

Right now, it's time to let that creativity flow and just write out a quality draft. You're chain-drinking Americanos or listening to meditation music. Just be in "creation mode" for a bit, get out what you want to say, and we'll meet in the edit.

Editing Your Draft

The following quick tips are good practice for blog articles.

  • 500 words is a minimum, 2000 words is too much. The average post I see these days is 800-1600 - best to know what you're aiming for in line with your target blogger's instructions.
  • Break up your text into subheadings and give each thought a little space to breathe.
  • Start with a story, feeling, a little opener that tells the reader how you came to talk about this. A classic opener might be a variation of "Ever feel like [insert your topic]?"
  • Complete your article with a clear next step and offer solutions for all the problems you have talked about. You don't have to have all the answers, but there should be a clear recommendation.
  • For a bonus: Link back to one or two of your host blog's existing articles in the text

Step 3: Be A Joy To Work With

Once your first draft is written, the blogger may wish to work with you before they schedule your work for publication. Be nice, accept their editorial feedback. But even beyond the writing part, here are some amazing ways to become a blogger they will tell their friends about:

  • Pay attention to the format they want to receive. For example my preference is always Google Doc or Markdown, and not MS Word.
  • Provide a 50-150 word bio, a quality photo of you and any other information the blogger wants to include.
  • Always pay attention when your post goes live, reply to any comments and share it with your own followers. For good karma, if nothing else - but I have previously acquired paying customers from this.

Time To Take Action

Now that you know the secrets to getting featured on your favourite ever blog, what's holding you back?

Have you ever guest blogged before? Which tip are you going to try?

Share in the comments below or let me know in our Facebook group!

Breaking News: Udemy's 80% Discounts Are History

So I had this whole other article planned to be published today, but then the online teaching fox jumped into the hen house and big news and thoughts happened. If you're currently planning to develop an online course or teaching one, this is a big relevant update.

Udemy Changes Its World

The big online teaching platform Udemy has announced that they are making significant changes to how teachers can price courses they are selling. In their new pricing policy, they stated:

You can set your course price within one of 7 tiers between $20 and $50: $20, $25, $30, $35, $40, $45, $50.

The changes are going to take hold at the beginning of April and will affect a wide range of courses that are usually sold on a discount basis. Here is a nice video of some men telling us how the world now looks for everyone.

 

Is Udemy Completely Useless Now?

 

I have heard some of you declaring that being at the mercy of Udemy for your value and contact with your audience has been a bugbear for a while. In terms of the bigger picture, it's critical to know that this isn't about working with Udemy, but about working with any platform that helps you promote.

Instagram, Facebook, Google, italki - all of these companies require that you play by the rules. And that's THEIR rules, meaning you are in a trade of your content for their audience.

It will always be a challenge to balance the really tough work of building your own little empire with the compromises of standing on the shoulders of social media or marketplaces. Just like italki, many people get a huge benefit out of starting off with these platforms but must keep an eye on the future they want to build.

What Udemy has done has happened many times before. When Google changes SEO algorithms or Facebook brings in paid reach, it's a reminder of the relationship we rely on.

But what that means is for you to figure out, because your business is YOURS.


Where do you stand on this?


If you want to hear more about what I'm doing after 3 years of teaching on Udemy, email me back with your questions.

So What Will I Do Now?

After beginning to move my key courses to the Teachable platform in November, I'm currently in a spring clean phase for all my offerings. The new Udemy rules are affecting several courses I have produced, but I do love teaching them on there and giving you an affordable way to meet me through Live Lesson Strategies for Online Tutors & Teachers. 

I'm not feeling ready for a knee-jerk reaction right now, so I won't remove all my courses. But I've been working on a strategy shift for a few months to allow for Teachable to be different to Udemy in what I offer.

I love reaching people who don't know me yet, that hasn't changed. And I love that Udemy's audience of millions reaches people who are accessing this type of education for the first time in their lives. So I will not create "junk courses" to penalize those learners, but try to create a careful way of interacting with the platform.

If you have specific questions or want to discuss your own online course situation, get in touch with me or leave a comment on this article. I do believe that each business is different and personalised advice goes a long way.

Is It Crazy For You To Keep Charging By The Hour?

In my work as a consultant and mentor for online teachers, there's a set of points that come up on a regular basis. Our stories go through similar storylines, and our lives unravel with the same grinding points that gradually push you towards the point where you feel the need to DO SOMETHING.

One of those points is that moment where you look up from your computer screen after hours of teaching online, examine your notes and realize you're exhausted. Your ears are ringing from the tinny sound of Skype calls in your headphones. Your notebook is full. Your students made a bit of progress. You have 4 hours to go, a blog article to write, and need to get your taxes done.

This wasn't quite how you planned it. When you started offering online lessons, taking your first students seemed like a miracle. You thought that getting 20 more students would mean 20x more income, and you'd be set for life. But in all that, you forgot all the extra things that surround 20 extra students. Admin, invoicing, marketing, and ultimately denying yourself the chance to work with people at your own best level.

If reading this description has you nodding along, I say it's time to break out of charging by the hour for a generic language lesson. The following five steps are how you can grow into an invaluable resource, help people more than ever before, and become a true specialist.

5 Simple Steps to Packaging Your Services

A package is a bundled version of the things you already do, put together for one specific purpose. For example, if you know your students get stressed before exams you could offer a focused package of study plan + mock exam + coaching session about how to stay calm. This allows you to improve how you express the full 360 degress of work you do for students.

Sound good? Let's get into the 5 steps.

1. Focus, Focus, Focus

Package deals are best when you really focus on one specific goal that your customers might have. Of course you have enormous potential and capacities to work with a range of people, several languages, perhaps to offer thousands of scenarios. But for the purpose of this one deal, just focus on one goal that a customer will have.

For example, a vague package might be "5 lessons for the price of 4". But a specific and focused one could be "IELTS test prep - 3 mock exams, a booklet of success secrets and detailed writing coaching to get you to IELTS 8.0 guaranteed!". See the difference?

2. Automate Set Pieces

When there is a part of your work that you repeat many times over, it could be time to automate it. If you teach online or coach with clients, you are likely to do this already by recycling the best learning materials. What if you collected them all in a small guide or created a recording that is exclusive to your clients? This can become a valuable and exclusive part of your new and shiny package.

3. Keep an Open Mind

After creating an awesome idea for a package deal, it's tempting to think the product is finished already, but it may help you to get a little bit of feedback and work through it with one or two testers. These guys are often called beta clients, and will be ready to give you

4. Set a Short-Term Goal

What do you think you could achieve for your shiny new package (hah!) in 2 weeks?

Some ideas:

  • Promote it on a podcast, in a newspaper or on your blog (check out the end of this article)
  • Get your first paying client through the door
  • Conduct a free trial run

5. Promote Small and Close

I think every one-person business dreams of being bigger, having a video editor, a copywriter, a blog writer, perhaps someone just to focus on running your Facebook page. But at this stage, you might be just flying solo out in the professional world. Not a problem!

Forget a huge marketing campaign and try to reach out to your closest allies, people you usually hang out with, places where your customers are. If you need to make money NOW, it's a good idea to offer the package to your mailing list or even ask an influential blogger or teacher whether they can help you promote. For long-term thinking, nothing beats building your own platform.

Package Magic - An Intro Offer

If you dream abandoning money-per-hour and don't even know where to get started, I have a deal for you. I am in the process of designing a package ;) that will help service providers just like you get started with packaging their services.

Step 1: You bring me all your current processes, prices, products and problems.

Step 2: We go through a creative and thorough process to help you create a new package idea that fits in with your target client and has some great earnings potential.

Step 3: I'll help you shape your brand new package page and draw up a 2 week marketing plan.

This offer is perfect for you if you're an independent service provider. You want to try something new, work with my experience and marketing skill, and get accountability for yourself by working with a mentor.

Curious about this deal? Then book a slot in my diary and let's chat about your individual requirements.

A Behind-The-Scenes Guide To Becoming Location-Independent

location independence guide

Location independence has become one of the big buzzwords of the working world. Computers are portable, wifi is everywhere and finally all those travel dreams can become reality without having to ask your boss.

Since many online teachers dream of becoming location-independent, I asked travelling teacher Gabby Wallace to join me on a webinar and talk about how to be successful on the road. Here are the best tips she shared in this exclusive inside view into what it takes.

Tips for Becoming a Digital Nomad

1) Become a Minimalist

"The things you own own you."

If you currently own some furniture, an extended four-season wardrobe, a car and two pets, you'll have to shed some belongings before taking up life as a digital nomad. Gabby tells the story of how she started fitting all her belongings into one travel backpack and gave up her apartment in Tokyo. Life on the road is not about what weighs you down, so consider a few serious giving-away sessions before you let go.

2) Drop the Idea of Getting Paid to Have a Holiday

The mindset that all travel is a time of leisure is not for that digital nomad. Instead of blowing through your cash in hotels and living off room service, you'll have to mix business with normal life on the road. Take out extended leases or housesitting agreements instead of hopping from hotel to hotel, so that you can enjoy lower local living costs and save up on cooking your own meals.

Gone are the images of sipping margaritas on the beach, as you and your team have to keep money coming in. While life on the road is not the same as a year-long dream holiday, Gabby says that the personal growth and amazing experiences are well worth the tough times.

3) Build Routine Into Your Day

When you travel a lot and don't live at a fixed address, you miss out on many invisible advantages such as being a gym member or meeting up with your hobby clubs on a regular basis. Gabby advises that keeping routine as a core part of your day is absolutely essential to maintaining productivity.

Quick Tips to Build Routine:

  1. Make sure you get up and feel ready to work hard every day, have morning and evening routines.
  2. Join online mastermind groups and entrepreneur circles that you can access from anywhere.
  3. Establish positive eating and exercise habits that set you up for success, so that the crazy changes in your environment don't tip the scales toward making you lose focus on your business.

4) Back up your computer

Ideally you want to back up your computer twice. The first backup can be a physical one, for example using an external hard drive. But for absolute peace of mind, use a virtual backup service such as Backblaze. Gabby told me several stories of stolen laptops - if that has your only project draft on it, you'll be lost. The cost of a laptop can be replaced but it's a different story with your precious work and data.

For those of you who are particularly worried about how to start backing up, here's a website detailing the spectrum of what is on offer. Personally, I back up to an external flash drive with my Mac's Time Machine software, with added cloud storage for my most essential materials.

5) Use Great Software

It's not difficult these days to find free software that is perfect for setting up and running your online teaching business. If you don't know where to start, here are our must-haves.

Trello is a staple of every well-run online business. From editorial calendars to curriculum building, this software will bring some order into any busy teacher's chaotic desk.

Google Docs are another essential. You can watch how to set up a shared folder and resource files for your students in my Udemy course Live Lesson Strategies for Online Teachers & Tutors.

Skype (duh!), Google Hangouts and Facetime are the cornerstones of how we work. For group lessons, the new kid on the block is zoom.us, a nice and lightweight software.

6) Remember You Can't Have It All

Freedom comes at the price of security, and the other way round. So when you're planning to become location-independent, think about what this really means for your life and how you'd like to enjoy it in the coming years.

If you don't want to fully give up your home base, that's absolutely okay. Working independently doesn't have to mean 24/7 travel.

What Do You Think?

Is location-independence for you? Do you wish you could travel more? Or are you a total homebody who loves a cozy nest?

And here's something for you if you want to learn more about working independently: To get the full webinar with Gabby Wallace and more amazing insights from the awesome How to Reach More Students in 2016 conference, all you need to do is hop over to Gumroad and check out our exclusive bundle today.

What Should You Do When You Need To Outdo Other Teachers?

online teaching competition

Here's a secret. The working title for this post was "In this whole article, I have essentially written up some wonderful advice generously donated to me by my friends. I'm a total thief." And with that in mind, let me tell you why this is fantastic.

At last week's rather amazing event How to Reach More Students in 2016, I was lucky to host a webinar entitled "What Makes You Special is What Makes You Money" with Lindsay from Lindsay does Languages. The webinar was one of the most honest and interesting of the whole show, guiding the audience through the process of finding the intersection between what you love and what will pay for you.

Roadmaps Don't Work

One of the most important aspects of finding your own style and brand in any business, no matter how big or small, is that moment when you realize that following another person's roadmap isn't going to work. You can look at their success and follower numbers and six-figure-income, and work backwards from "how they must have started".

But are they going to tell you how many times they messed up? No! And are you going to feel like an idiot the first time you mess up? Yes!!

Lindsay mentioned that it can be helpful to pay attention to those moments when jealousy gets the better of you and you start looking for faults with people that others look up to. This can be finding that the TED talk speaker you so admire is using "boring slides". Their achievement is belittled in your mind as you try to make yourself feel a little better.

What if you could change your way of thinking and start seeing how the other person's success is an inspiration, but not a blueprint of success? In fact: What if their talents could start being part of your own great business?

Mindset Shift: Eyes On Your Own Paper

Here's a little excerpt from the Savvy Brand Toolkit, the key set of brand building materials that I work with:

When throwing yourself at a market, you’re inevitably going to start looking around. It might start as a search for inspiration, but beware the rabbithole of comparing yourself to others on social media. Here are a few thoughts you may recognize:

  • What about all those other guys?

  • They can teach! They can entertain!

  • They have so many students!

  • How am I going to outdo the others?

You wonder what you’ve possibly got to offer that could keep up with them, but this is not an attitude that will get you further. As my friend Brenda often says, the mantra to adhere to is > “Eyes on your own paper!”

Return to that idea of brand, of being yourself. Personality is that one skill that none of us can ever fake, and should be at the top of your checklist whenever you sum up the value and goodness you provide.

Funnily enough, one of the people I used to be scared of was Lindsay herself. She makes incredible videos, is funny, dedicated, disciplined. She's even a great online teacher, and every course she makes looks awesome. Has this girl no faults?!

Luckily, I dared myself to reach out to Lindsay. I invited her to come and give an interview on my podcast, and turns out she was as funny and approachable as she was gifted and hard-working. We had a great time, and I found myself listening back to my Lindsay episode and enjoying so much about it that I emailed her and asked if she fancied becoming a co-host. Fast forward a few months and here I am with a strong podcasting partner whose talent has helped make my own show great.

I have learnt that reaching out to those that intimidate me most is a consistent factor of success in my own business. This is why I run events like #Reach2016 with such pleasure, and why I'm always excited to collaborate with people who kind of scare the heck out of me. Every one of the speakers at that event is doing something amazing that I've not accomplished. At #reach2016, I got to connect and find out how they did it. And I also got to put them on a stage and show you how they did it, too. It's pretty blissful, and way better than being in tears every time that Gabby Wallace posts a new picture of beautiful beaches in Brazil.

Reach Out (I'll Be There)

So this is a little call to arms:

Who intimidates you a little bit? What could they use that you provide?

I hope you'll find a way to get a little bit of that goodness they put out and combine it with your own talents. And if you're super brave, post a comment here and tell me who inspires you and what your dream collaboration would be. From Oprah to Dalai Lama, feel free to think big!

If you want to have support when you walk your roadmap to success, you can apply for one of my limited Mentoring slots by booking half an hour to chat.

12 Convincing Reasons to Join Savvy Brand Academy 2016

Hi everyone, it's that time of year again - Savvy Brand Academy is now open for enrollments for the next 2 weeks!

What's Savvy Brand Academy?

The academy is an intensive coaching programme and mastermind designed for online teachers who want to find their best path to the market. It's for people just like you and helps you build a step-by-step brand that takes away self-doubt and questions like "who is going to pay for my lessons?"

The curriculum of this course is thorough and challenging, asking you to build up your brand identity from a clean slate. It will not only help you "find a niche" or "set a price", but go deeper than that.

  • Every week, you will receive in-depth handbooks, videos and exercises that introduce the steps to making your ideal brand a reality.
  • You'll be joining live video calls with your Academy peers to discuss what you are learning and go deeper into the heart of what's stopping you from succeeding.
  • You'll also receive readymade templates and a full website building tutorial that is guaranteed to make your marketing materials convert better than ever.

Savvy Brand Academy is about choosing your clients instead of asking them to choose you.

To explain more about the journey you'll go through in Savvy Brand Academy, I decided to give a voice to our amazing Academy alumni. Here are some top secret, authentic survey responses showing you how they got on.

First Question: Why did you join Savvy Brand Academy?

I've previously taught and was out of the business for a while. I wanted to use the course to take time to think how I could possibly teach languages again in the future, possibly as part of a portfolio of income streams. My questions were what did I have to offer, how should I offer it, to whom.

I didn't know how to get myself into a position where I could charge more for my teaching services.

I felt I was lacking some knowledge of marketing and business potential. I just threw myself into my business, and felt there were definitely some things I was missing due to not knowing they existed (brand building, marketing, resources, etc.) I needed a push into the right direction.

Second Question: Which Stage Was Your Favourite, and Why?

I loved Stage 2. As a beginner, I had no confidence that I can really teach someone something. I believed in myself but I needed to have something legitimate to show my clients. So I was desperate and willing to take any client. The result of ending with the wrong client is mis-communication and lack of progress. So this section really helped me achieve great progress with my clients and talk to the right kind for me.

This is a tough question because it's really hard to just say ONE favorite. I chose this one though because it was the one that really pushed me to think differently, challenge myself, and think about my brand. I do want to note that Stage 5 was a close 2nd because I loved the actions to get involved and reach out, and it was a great way to review everything we had learned.

Stage 3! This was a totally new concept to me, and I was glad that I had finally heard it verbalized the way it was and that I could use the principles learned at that stage to improve my services in general.

Third Question: How did you feel about Kerstin's expertise and dedication to supporting you?

Really enjoyed working with Kerstin on this course. She came across as competent and experienced and radiates enthusiasm for the field. She was good a pulling our thoughts to clear and actionable conclusions. Really enjoyed the sense of community fostered by Kerstin.

What I like about Kerstin is her ability to pull a number of resources together and point people in the right direction. I'm sure she has a wealth of expertise herself, but in my humble opinion her major strength is the ability to compile her own experience, the experience of others and some other people's valuable advice and bring it all together.

Kerstin is highly knowledgeable about both online marketing and teaching online. She is therefore the ideal person to guide me through this kind of course. I am impressed with Kirsten's [sic] enthusiasm and enjoyed her lively sense of humour as I journeyed through the course. With Kerstin's expert guidance the course has led me to a real understanding of online niche marketing.

Final Question: Now that you have completed Savvy Brand Academy, how are you feeling about your business and your brand?

Much clearer about what I could offer if I went back to teaching, who I would be targetting and how to do it all.

I feel like I have a clearer direction of where I want to go, and feel more confident in getting there. I don't think my work is done just because the course is over, and know I have a long way to go to getting it exactly where I need to be (through trial & error, experimenting, etc..) but all of the exercises and information received in this course will continue to help me get there even though it's over.

I need to do certain things in order to market myself better, and have a game plan. My ideas of how to get where I want to go are crystal clear to me now. And I'm currently investing in myself more and keen to progress onto my projects. In fact, I am really, really excited about the future.

What previous participants thought about the course

What previous participants thought about the course

Would You Recommend Savvy Brand Academy? 100% YES

In this survey, I also asked the participants to rate whether they would recommend that you join Savvy Brand Academy. The result was a unanimous YES!

To follow in their footsteps and build the kind of brand that others look up to, here's how to enroll:

1) Click on this link to enroll

2) Add your ticket to the basket by clicking "Enroll Now" and enter your payment details on the checkout page (it shows the price in GBP, and will convert to your currency in payment)

3) Once your payment is processed, you're a member of Savvy Brand Academy and will receive your personal welcome kit from me

If you join us today, you can also secure the limited offer of a FREE 1-to-1 session worth $97 where we'll focus in on your business to create crystal-clear goals that help you use your time effectively.

I can't wait to send you that Welcome Kit,

Kerstin

How to Reach More Students 2016

You are Invited to the #1 Teaching Event of the New Year

Over the past weeks, work on the Teaching HQ has focused on creating an event that will top everything else you could do to start your teaching business in the new year. I have pulled in some of the best online teachers that I know and created an agenda focused on exactly the kinds of questions you need answers to.

The result is How to Reach More Students 2016!


Join us from the comfort of your home to learn exactly how to improve your business in the next year.

Free Event featuring 6 Speakers in 3 Days

This online event will be held right here on Fluent as a free conference from 5-7 January.

The speaker line-up is extremely impressive, featuring Elena Mutonono, Jen Nascimento, Gabby Wallace, Jack Askew and Lindsay Dow.

Sneak Peek: 

Jack Askew will be talking about how to find your niche.

Jennifer Nascimento will be sharing how she recruits students using photos on Instagram.

Want more VIP Coaching?

web banner.jpg

If you want to put more cash in your pocket and build a powerful online teaching platform in 3 months, then grab one of the highly limited Mastermind places in Savvy Brand Academy 2016.

The academy is open for enrolment now. Get the full curriculum at www.fluentlanguage.co.uk/savvy-brand-academy2016

How Much Should You Charge For An Online Lesson?

price cash

Today, I want to talk about every entrepreneur’s favourite topic: Pricing! There are so many ways and angles from which we can look at pricing.

In my Branding course full of smart entrepreneurs, we encountered pricing as a hot topic straight away. Online teachers have a hard time getting the rates right. On the one hand, there’s a crowded market full of cheaper alternatives. On the other hand, there’s a huge demand from students. Today I want to address the "my clients can't pay me more" objection that lots of my course participants struggled with.

Set Fair Rates That Work For You And Your Clients

If you have ever had to set the price for a product or service you provide, you are going to recognise the feeling of fear that this generates. Money just has this way of drawing out all the judgement and ideas that you have about yourself, what you're entitled to and what you're worth. The lesson I am beginning to learn here, after years of self-employment, is that no one cares about my price as much as I do.

Key Question 1: How Do You Know If You're Good?

You have to believe that you are pretty good at providing your service in order to charge a fair price for it. So my first advice to many of my coaching clients is to ignore their rate and consider if they think they're providing a good service.

For example, an online teacher will often provide the following services in addition to the hour of contact time charged:

  • Homework Assignments and Revision
  • Book Recommendations
  • Goal Setting and Coaching Assistance by Email
  • Creating Bespoke Worksheets and Materials
  • Researching Exams and Education Standards around the Globe

If each of these services was charged separately, they would amount to a lot more than an online teacher's typical hourly rate. So my advice is to consider all that you provide: your "Teach Plus".

The second step is to look for external, fact-based evidence of your high standards. Qualifications, teaching awards, blog comments, testimonials and years of experience are not just in your head: They truly add value to your service.

Key Question 2: Who Are You Targeting?

Even when all of the above processes are worked through (and in the Savvy Brand process, we approach this in a lot of depth), I often find that the real obstacle to charging fair rates is that my clients tell me "no one can afford a rate higher than this." This prompts me to ask: If someone cannot afford a rate that is fair to you, how can they be your ideal client?

At first sight, such a thought may feel uncharitable. But then, remember that you are not actually running a charity. Being able to continue running a tiny one-person business is a situation in which you must make money. The same clients that struggle to afford a service you provide will often happily spend equal amounts on luxury goods such as a smartphone or holiday home. If you catch yourself feeling sorry for a client who cannot afford you, consider their situation closely. Will they value your service enough to invest? If not, you may be better off limiting what you can provide to them and referring them to a real charity.

Remember that there is such a thing as charging too little. * mind boggles *

Key Question 3: What Is The Charge To You?

In this exercise, you must be ruthless and take the time to conduct a realistic analysis of all your expenses. How much is the hourly rate you would like to earn? How many hours do you get paid for? And how can you make a profit?

Profit is not a bad word for a home-based freelancer. Your profits are what allows you to continue to grow and develop as a service provider, to attend conferences, stay relevant and move with the times.

There are many good calculators available online to help you determine your hourly freelance rates. Here is a good guide from Creative Boom for more detailed information.

Key Question 4: How Will You Tell Them?

Once you have set up all of the above, you're likely to face that horrible moment of truth. You list your prices on your website. They don't look right to you, you figure reducing by 10% can't hurt. Or a potential customer sends you an email asking how much it will cost to take 5 lessons, and you instantly discount your fair rate. Because it's uncomfortable to tell them, right? Because they can get cheaper elsewhere.

Here's how I summed up my thoughts about the $5/hour teaching phenomenon for my language learning friends: 

Self-employed language teachers will price themselves as low as they can because they really love working with you. But when they are taking on 50 students a week because the price per lesson is very low, they become mediocre teachers. If you are able to approach the exchange with a mindset that considers both payment and benefits, you will not be ripped off.

You can read the full article on the Fluent blog.

So the next time you feel awkward about posting your rate, why not just double it for one day and see how that feels? After all, the way to make a $800 watch look cheap is to put it next to a $1700 watch.

I'd love to hear from you about how you feel and how you price. Come and share your thoughts on Facebook or comment here if you have ever felt the need to explain why you're so "expensive" or "cheap".

Grow Your Reach With an Email Newsletter

Ahh, the arena of promotion. It is what makes working online so much fun. The internet has created a new workplace for you, one that has never been seen before. Fewer gatekeepers than ever, millions of platforms and forums, an ever connected world.

newsletters

Your new problem is not how you can talk, but how to actually be heard. Twitter is busy, Facebook limits "post reach", blogging feels anonymous. Enter the great old email newsletter.

No matter how many new solutions and social networks are launched, email refuses to go away. It's a consistent way of engaging with your subscribers. For me personally, it's always been channel #2 on the "I want to express myself" scale, but the first point I go to when I have something to share that I really care about. Email newsletters allow for a conversation with people who are allowing you to write to them at their online home address. It allows you to become someone's favourite teacher, writer or blogger. In other words, what's not to like?

One single blog article cannot really do justice to all the ins and outs of writing newsletters to your subscribers, so I expect to come back to this topic on occasions in the future. Today, let's start with why and how you can set up a newsletter.

6 GREAT REASONS TO WRITE REGULAR NEWSLETTERS

  1. It allows you to keep in touch in a way that lets you address your subscribers by name, write to them with ideas that aren't fully formed yet and open up real conversations.

  2. Email marketing is often cited as one of the most effective marketing tools out there. If you do it responsibly and don't go sending unsolicited junk every week, you will open up a great way to build trust with your subscribers.

  3. As you get busy, the newsletter's automation feature can allow you to set up a sequence of pre-written emails to send to your subscribers. This way, you get to remind them of your work on a regular basis and they don't have to come back to your website every time.

  4. Blog readers and social media followers get something special from you in a newsletter - a personal note, a special offer or a question.

  5. You get to track who's actually reading the things you write. And then you'll feel great because people read your news. And then you'll be able to talk to those who are most interested.

  6. It is reassuring and sensible at the same time to have a record of all the people who have opted in to hearing from you. No matter if Facebook shuts down or Twitter starts charging $0.10 per tweet, you will still have an opportunity to reach those people who liked you enough to say "yes, I'm in".

Of course, there are many reasons you would also want to avoid having a newsletter. You have to learn how to use them. You have to ask for an email address from your website visitors. You have to become a responsible list owner. If that kind of stuff worries you, don't read on.

WHICH SYSTEM SHOULD I USE?

The most convenient way to set up a newsletter is to use a service that's dedicated to this. These services will ensure you get the correct permission from subscribers before adding them. They make it easy to send email to many people and allow for personalization through easy Mailmerges.

I've been with Mailchimp for about 2.5 years now and am satisfied with their service, but ultimately it doesn't matter which provider you end up using. Core questions to consider might be:

  • Is this easy to use, do I understand how it works?
  • Has the service been well reviewed?
  • Is the cost right for me? (Bear in mind one day you might have tens of thousands of fans..)
  • Do they offer all the features I think I will need?

DON'T FORGET TO TEST

In the middle of the Black Friday promotion phase, I recently sent out a special newsletter inviting my subscribers to take advantage of my fab offers. I was agonising over finding the right recommendations for them. I was proud of my discounts. I was ready to go, relieved to hit send...and then I heard back from many subscribers who felt the need to tell me that their name isn't <<First Name>>. So. Embarrassing!

Don't be that girl - testing is important.

Once you have set up your newsletter's sign up forms and welcome pages, make sure everything works by subscribing with your own email address. Share it with your students, customers or friends, but don't expect it to rock your world instantly. The key is to show your friendliness and skill on a regular basis.

NEED AN EXAMPLE?

Why not sign up to my Teaching Newsletter? I will keep you up to date with upcoming events and share what's new in the world of online teaching.

And if you are super ambitious, try this for an inspiration source: Really Good Emails.