This is the third post in the summer slump series – view all the posts & read the others here.
The first two posts in this series dealt with systematizing to avoid slumps and planning ahead to avoid slumps (respectively), and they are long – almost 3,000 words combined (2,870, to be exact). This one is pretty hefty too…but instead of going seriously in-depth on 3-4 systems/strategies, I wanted to cover more things in an action-oriented fashion so that you can pick and choose what works for you + your biz.
Without further ado, here’s your homework – resources included:
#1: Try a new social network
Haven’t set up your Pinterest or Instagram accounts yet? Have a LinkedIn account but haven’t touched it in years? Pick a social network you don’t normally use and make a real effort to be active on it (in a proactive way, not in a “I opened my browser and looked at it” way) every day for at least one week, maybe two. Post. Comment on others’ posts. Participate in groups. You know the drill.
- International Freelancer’s Academy podcast on using LinkedIn effectively
- 52 tips: how to market on Instagram
- 26 tips for using Instagram for business
- 3 unique ways to use Pinterest for business
- 5 tips to master Pinterest for business
#2: Do a live (online) event
This doesn’t have to be a webinar or a teleclass, though those can be effective if you decide to go that route. You could also do:
- A month-long blogging challenge, inviting participants to participate, giving them prompts, and providing accountability via emails and a Facebook group
- A week-long Facebook event with posts every day and homework for participants to do
- An hour-long tweetchat about a specific topic (you can also participate in other tweetchats to meet new people – here’s a directory)
- A Q&A day on Facebook where you’ll be around answering questions
- A Spreecast, Google Hangouts, or Vokle event with live video and personal interaction
Resources: Online webinar/teleconferencing tools
- Uberconference (Teleconferencing tool – intended for meetings but can be used with classes, free with limits, paid account is $10/month)
- FreeConferenceCall (Teleconferencing that is, you guessed it, free)
- GoToWebinar (Webinar tool, considered industry standard by many, $80/month)
#3: Do a live (offline) event
This might sound intimidating and expensive, but it doesn’t have to be either. Host a free meetup – promote it to your local friends on Facebook and ask them to share to anyone who might be interested (make it fun, informative, or both). And if you have any local coworking spaces, hit them up and ask if they’d be interested in you giving a free (emphasize free and no-pitch, and follow through with that promise – don’t be a spam-monster, yo) talk to their members. Chances are, they’d be delighted to have you provide a bonus to their membership, and it’s a great way to meet other entrepreneurs and potential clients in your local community.
#4: Get off your computer and network/meet up in person
We’re so used to meeting people via the internet that we can default to that, and while it’s pretty freakin’ great (true fact: I met my boyfriend and my two best friends over the internet!), it’s certainly not the only way to meet people. Networking in person can expose you to a whole segment of your market that you may have been overlooking, and it’s also better for getting a vibe as to whether someone will be a high maintenance client or not.
- A recent Word Carnival revolved entirely around this topic – lots of good tips in the articles!
- Creative Mornings – one of my favorite events to attend! (which is saying something considering it involves being somewhere at 8:30 AM)
- Meetup, of course
- Crave: meetups for women in business around the country
- Network After Work
#5: Talk to 100 people
This is a great idea because:
- It gives you a goal – not just “talk to people and see what their needs are and what they’re struggling with”, but “talk to 100 people” – then you can set mini-goals (20 people this week, 20 the next, etc.) and track progress
- Talking to people about their problems tells you what they’re struggling with in their words, which is invaluable both for product/service creation, content creation (blog posts and paid content like courses), and creating sales copy and social media updates
- It gets you in front of a lot of new people – chances are you’ll have to stretch yourself to have a conversation with that many people, and that can kickstart word of mouth about you + your biz
Resource: Shenee’s 100 people project lab
#6: Do a time or number limited service offering
By this, I don’t really mean doing a sale – you don’t want to discount your services most of the time, as it often comes back to bite you in the ass later.
Instead, think outside of your business – what’s going on on a grander scheme that means your people need help? Did Google just redo their algorithm and now your clients might need their content reworked? New social media icon sizes? Two platforms combining in a way that’s going to confuse a lot of people? Find something that makes sense for your audience & business, create a package around it, and offer it for a limited time. Structuring it around an outside event automatically gives people incentive to buy and buy quickly, without icky fake scarcity tactics.
#7: Revamp old blog posts
Chances are, you’re sitting on an archive of old posts – some of which were way more popular than others. Analyzing your archives can let you know which posts get the most search traffic and which ones get the most social shares, which gives you a good idea of what content will be successful going forward.
For each old post, you can:
- Turn it into a video and upload to Youtube (check out these tips for Youtube optimization)
- Create a worksheet to go along with the content and publish it in its own new post
- Turn it into a podcast and upload to iTunes or Soundcloud
- Create a follow up post containing your experiences, thoughts, and lessons learned on that same topic, since the last post was written
- If there’s a theme across them, you can put your best posts together into an ebook and make it opt-in only or upload to Kindle
Resources: Finding out which posts are the most popular
- Google Analytics (the standard analytic tool, free, but can be confusing)
- Clicky (great free plan with amazing features)
- Improvely (another analytic tool, starts at $29/mo, see my review here)
- Social Crawlytics will tell you what your most shared posts are
- You can see what people are pinning from your site by going to http://pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite.com/
#8: Do a joint venture product or class
This is a pretty simple idea: you join forces with someone else and do a class or product focusing on the area of overlap between your skill-sets/interests. I made Productivity for Multipotentialiates over two years ago with Emilie and not only did it introduce me to new people when we ran it, it still introduces me to new readers and customers all this time later.
- Make a list of people you know that you think it would be a total blast to teach a class or do a call with. You don’t really want to cold-introduce yourself to someone for the sole purposes of this, as the chances of them saying yes are pretty low.
- Think about the overlap between your audience, skill-sets, and interests.
- And then ask them if they’d be interested in collaborating. You can even just do a free call if neither of you has the time or energy to do a full fledged product/class at this point.
#9: Send out review copies of your products
Again, this is pretty simple:
- Create a list of people whose readers would be genuinely interested in your products.
- Email those people and ask them if they’d be interested in doing a review and giveaway of one of your products. It’s good etiquette to offer a giveaway for their readers and/or affiliate commissions, just so that you aren’t asking them to cover your product for free.
- Make sure to promote the review & giveaway on your end when it goes live – also good etiquette.
#10: Don’t have a product? Make one
This is simpler than it sounds. I made the yearly planners over one weekend nearly three years ago and they’re still one of my best selling items.
- Go over that list of most popular posts you made back in #7 and ask yourself: What’s the next step? After people read these, what do they need to know and do? What’s their next problem? Then, create a product that solves it.
- Think about what problem people have directly before they need your services. For example, if you’re a graphic designer, for your work together to go smoothly, it’s likely your clients need to know what mood they’re trying to convey with their brand, what color palette goes with that mood, what category of brand they’re aiming for…and so on. Create a product to help them fix the problem that comes before you work together, and then working together is a natural next step.
- When all else fails, make a list of the questions you get over and over from clients, readers, and friends, and create a product that answers them.
- Want to Build and Launch Your First Product – Here’s What Not to Do
- Why you should do a tiny product first
- The Freelancelift podcasts
#11: Be a guest writer or speaker
This has some overlap with #8 and hosting events, but is its own beast. You can:
- Contact local meetup organizers and ask if they’re looking for guest speakers (including national events like Creative Mornings)
- Contact local newspapers and magazines and pitch them on an article that’s in your area of expertise
- Contact online sites and magazines and pitch them on an article or series
- Look for local nonprofits or community organizations that are for your target market and contact them to see if they’d be interested in you doing a talk or workshop for their members
When done right, this will get you new clients & customers and establish your credibility as an expert so you can score future writing and speaking gigs (if you want), among other good things.
Resource: I’ve got a course coming up on guest posting effectively – check it out & sign up here.
#12: Pitch something outside of your comfort zone
I’ve got a post going up at FastCompany soon. Do you know how I got it? By doing something that made me literally nauseous with discomfort. After I decided to get over the nausea, buck up, and do it, it was pretty much just a matter of hard work and research.
Make your dream list of places you’d like to be featured or write for, events you’d like to speak at, and find out how to get in. (Hint: search for “writer’s guidelines”, “press releases”, “product samples”, “submission guidelines”, and/or “call for speakers” on their website.) Then pitch at least one in the next week.
#13: Follow up with five people, every day, for the next two weeks
Much like talking to 100 people, the main benefit here is that it gets you out in front of a lot more people than normal. But the idea is not to be salesy – it’s to say hi and genuinely see how you can help people.
- Contact past clients and see how they’re doing, if there’s anything you can do for them, and if they have any questions that they’d like to see you write about on your blog
- Contact readers you’ve talked to in the past and see how they’re doing and if they’re struggling with anything
- Email customers and ask for their honest feedback on your products and if they have any questions left unanswered after using them
- Email people when they sign up for your email list to welcome them and ask how they’re doing/what they’re struggling with (and no, setting up an autoresponder doesn’t count)
- Send a catching up note to people you’ve met at events and conferences in the past, but haven’t heard from in a while
Whew – there you go, 13 ways you can get yourself outta this slump and back into smooth sailing. You know what’s next: pick one, do it today, and task out the rest for the next two weeks.