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4 Ways to Make Your Images Pinterest Friendly

4 Ways to Make Your Images Pinterest Friendly

guest-linda-johannessen

 

“Do I really, actually need pretty, Pinterest-y images on my blog?”
“But I’m writing about marketing! And apps! Pinterest doesn’t care about those.”
“I’m not on Pinterest so I’m just going to ignore it. That works, right?”

If I had a nickel for every time one of my clients said something along these lines … well, I’d have a lot of nickels.

I mean, I get it. We’re all up to our necks in client work, blog posts, and innumerable social media platforms. Optimizing our images for Pinterest can feel like just another bullet point on a never-ending to-do list.

As of January 2015, Pinterest had 70 million users, 80% of them women. If you’re a coach, I’m guessing that most of your clients are women.

Which means they’re on Pinterest.

Which means your posts should be, too.

The surprising thing is – you don’t even need to be on Pinterest for your posts to be popular there. All you need is blog readers who use Pinterest and want to pin your content.

Have I convinced you? Wonderful!

Here are four easy ways to make your images Pinterest friendly.

1. Use gorgeous images
Well, of course, right? Luckily for us, the internet is teeming with cheap or free photo resources. Get free access to five million stock images here, check out Flickr’s Creative Commons images here, or take a peek at the Creative Commons library on 500px.com.

If you use Creative Commons images, remember to link to the photographer and give them proper credit. A potential caveat with Creative Commons images is that photographers can change the license at any time – a photo that was Creative Commons on Monday could be fully licensed on Tuesday. And be aware that Creative Commons images might contain trademarks (that Coke bottle or the Nike running shoes) which the companies haven’t signed off on.

2. Crop your images so they’re tall and long
The layout of Pinterest favors tall, long images; they stand out on Pinterest boards and attract more ‘likes’ and re-pins. You can either start with a vertically-oriented image or crop a horizontal image into a taller, thinner version of itself.

3. Add the title of your blog post to the image
Images of recipes and outfits don’t require much explanation, but an image of a sunset could be used for a blog post about travel, grief, or letting go of expectations. Add text to your images so pinners can tell at a glance what your post is about. And if you’re not a Photoshop aficionado, don’t worry! Picmonkey and Canva are both free and incredibly user friendly. I personally swear by Aviary.

4. Add title text to the html your images
This is not nearly as intimidating or techy as it sounds. Promise! When we pin something with title text, that little white box below the image auto-fills with a description. If you don’t create title text, your reader might just see “medium-cupcake3.jpg” when they try to pin your images – which doesn’t make for a particularly compelling pin. How you add title text depends on the blogging platform you’re using, but when you upload an image to your blog post, just look for ‘title text’ or ‘image title attribute.’ When you find it, just type a short description that will appeal to pinners and you’re all set!

If you follow these tips, your posts will be getting pinned in no time at all!

Linda Laegreid Johannessen is the founder and CEO of YAY Images, a stock image agency that’s the Spotify version of affordable, licensed images. For just $9.90 a month, you have access to 5 million (!!!) images that are perfect for blog posts, newsletters, and social media. She’d love it if you took advantage of a free month of photos or followed along on Twitter.

5 Guidelines for Breaking up with Your Virtual Assistant

5 Guidelines for Breaking up with Your Virtual Assistant

guest-kiri-mohan

Ending any kind of relationship is never easy, even a working relationship. Perhaps you no longer need a product, maybe you have found a better product, or perhaps the person’s quality of work has been weaker lately. Whatever the reason, breaking up with your Virtual Assistant (VA) can be a daunting task, especially if you have worked with them for years.

If you are ending a relationship with your VA because you are dissatisfied with their work, make sure you have documentation and that you have talked to them previously about the poor quality and improvements that were expected. That way, if there is any confusion at all, you can have proof to back up your criticism.

Here is some of my best advice on how to end a relationship with your Virtual Assistant, whatever the circumstances.

1. Check contracts. If you signed a contract with your VA in the beginning of your relationship, be sure to check and make sure what the terms are for ending the relationship. Some VA’s have a fee if you end the relationship before the contract has expired, others require a 30 day notification. Whatever the standards are, make sure you understand them before prematurely announcing you want to end it and possibly creating testy waters before absolutely necessary.

2. Train yourself on what your VA does. I have a client who had a VA prior to myself but due to some misunderstandings, the VA left them before being able to train me on their systems. It left me in a horrible spot because my client did not know what the VA had been doing! They had hired the other VA to run the administrative side of the business and worked with her for four years. Like any good VA, she had created organized systems so that everything ran smoothly, but my client never bothered to learn it, which resulted in a lot of stress for both of us as I had to learn everything on the fly. I cannot stress how important it is to make sure you understand everything your VA does before you end your relationship, which is also why a manual (as I mentioned in my previous article) is also vital for your business. Unfortunately, sometimes endings don’t go smoothly, so being able to understand everything your VA did can save yourself some headaches further on down the road.

3. Break the news with your VA over the phone. Everyone has heard a story where a teenager will break up with their significant other via text. Breaking up with your VA over email is similar, even if that is the way you communicate with them most of the time. Not only is talking about it over the phone professional, but it also helps clear any misunderstanding that could happen over email.

4. Tell the truth to the greatest extent possible. While on the phone with them, tell the truth on why you are ending the relationship, if it’s wise to do so. Be professional about it and try to stay clear of an emotional overreaction. I once had someone work with me for my trial period and then tell me they did not need a VA and that their business could not sustain one at this point. I believed it to be true, but a week later logged onto Virtual Assistantville to see their posting looking for a different VA. Needless to say, I was baffled because he said I had done a great job. After inquiring over email on why my services were not satisfactory, I came to find out that he was looking for a VA in a different niche than what I offered. The uncomfortable situation of calling him out over email could have been avoided had he just been upfront and truthful with me. Whatever the reason is, be professional about telling the truth as it is valuable for your VA so that they can take the proper steps to offering better services in the future.

5. Change your passwords. As soon as it is appropriate to do so, change any of the passwords the VA may have had access to. Perhaps this is after you have trained yourself on the systems with them, and sometimes, it may have to be beforehand. If the VA is unprofessional about ending the relationship, it’s better to change the passwords as soon as you can. Some people take rejection harder than others, and you don’t want to be stuck with a situation where your VA has access to your PayPal, email, or other sensitive accounts. If they had access to your credit card number, be sure to keep a close eye on the account and shut it down as soon as you notice any unusual activity.

In a perfect world, ending the relationship with your VA will go smoothly. If you’re lucky, your VA may have a recommendation for someone more suited for what you need. Even if that is not the case, by following the tips provided, you will at least have a thorough understanding of what you need going forward so that you can continue to run your business successfully without them.

Kiri has been working in the administrative field since she was 15 years old. What started off as a part-time job after high school blossomed into a full-time business when she realized she loved supporting people but wanted more flexibility than corporate America provided. Currently a Virtual Assistant for almost four years, she is constantly striving to figure out ways to make other people’s lives easier. Kiri is a Mount Holyoke College graduate and currently lives outside of Boston, MA with her family. In her spare time she blogs about Star Wars, drinks tea, and eats olives.

When Your Intuition Says No

When Your Intuition Says No

guest-theresa-reed
 

As an entrepreneur, your business depends on a steady stream of clients, both old and new, so it’s always exciting to see a new face show up in your inbox.

Most of the time, they simply sign up and you begin happily working together sans issues.

But on rare occasion…you may find yourself with a niggling feeling that something isn’t right before you’ve even signed a contract. It might be a simple personality glitch. Maybe something they say or do rubs you the wrong way. Or, you might get a serious “red flag” that says “back away, disco lady.”

Maybe you trusted your gut and declined the work. But most of the time, that instinct gets ignored, especially when you are a new entrepreneur and needing the business.

And you know what happens next: it turns out to be a terrible fit and now you’re stuck in client hell.

Ever have that happen?

If you haven’t, lucky you. But, sadly, most entrepreneurs have.

When you need the work, it’s hard to say no to good, paying work. But when that work suddenly turns out to be a not-so-great experience, you may find yourself wishing that you would have listened to that small voice within.

How do you know when you are getting a true intuitive hit? And, if you do see a red flag, what’s the best way to exit the situation in a way that allows the client to save face?

I recommend a pre-emptive strategy that allows for time to flesh out a new client before you commit to working together. A little breathing room will give you time to sit with your feelings and see if they are valid or not.

Some tactics to consider:
 

An intake form

A questionnaire is a perfect way to feel out a potential client. It doesn’t need to be lengthy. A few short, well thought out questions can give you a lot of information.
 

A mini phone interview

Many coaches offer a free “15 minute strategy session” as a way to market their business. Instead of that mindset, use these sessions as an opportunity to ask questions and evaluate the energy between you and them.
 

One strategy that I use

All appointments are booked via email without an online scheduler. This often leads to a little “email tag” between me and the client, which gives me a chance to interact and scrutinize how they respond. While that may seem like an inconvenient way to work, I can see if they are friendly and if they practice good follow through. In some cases, I will require a valid referral, which gives me another buffer to explore if something feels funky.

Once you have had time to interact, notice how you feel. If something seems to bug you, sit with it so that you can assess if this is just a quirk or something more.

For example, I have a client who is extremely loud with a voice that sounds like a jackhammer on a chalkboard. Our first interaction was not great because her voice made the hair stand up on every pore in my body. That was not a sign of a “bad fit,” it was just an indicator that we needed to work on her inside voice. We’ve been happily working together for over a decade.

An intuitive hit feels much different. It feels negative and low-energy. For example, it might be the person who shows up with a list of demands and steamrolls right over you. It may be that you sense they are not being upfront about their situation. Or a perhaps they have a million and one excuses that smell like total b.s. When it starts going in that direction, you must trust your gut.

If you’re not sure, give yourself a little more “courting time” to explore this further. A few more probing questions may help you discern if this is indeed a potential problem client.

Once you’ve established that this is not someone with whom you want to work, the best path forward is to turn them down gently via email. Thank them for their time and interest and then use the “it’s not you, it’s me strategy” so that they can walk away with
dignity intact.

Example:

Hello Patti,

Thank you for your inquiry and for taking the the time to fill out my intake form.

After careful consideration, I don’t think that I am the right coach for you. It sounds like you may be looking for someone who is more “hands-on” than me.

It may be better for you to continue your search to find the right person who will serve you the way you want – and deserve to be served. Although I’m not that person, I know that there are many wonderful coaches for you to choose from – and I know your intuition will lead you to the right one.

Thank you again for your time,
Theresa

While turning down work is never easy, it’s much harder working with someone who isn’t your “right client.” That feels like a concert with mismatched players – the rhythm is off and it’s hard to hit the right notes, whereas a good fit brings perfect harmony.

Listen carefully to your instincts when you are making decisions about new clients and you’ll be making beautiful music with all the right ones.

Blessings!
 
Theresa Reed (aka The Tarot Lady) is an intuitive Tarot reader, teacher, mentor and yogi on a mission to take Tarot from hippie to hip. When she’s not reading tarot, she’s busy helping broke-ass mystics learn how to create sustainable + profitable businesses. If you are ready for straight talkin’ tarot and a side of biz whizz, get to her online hood: The Tarot Lady or follow her on Twitter @thetarotlady.

Welcome to the new featured writers!

guest-sidebar-feb15
 

With great excitement I’d like to introduce our new featured writers Amber McCue, Farideh Ceasar, Theresa Reed, Kiri Mohan, and Linda Johannessen. Over the next few months, these five phenomenal women will share their expertise for the Coaching Blueprint during the months of February, March and April 2015.
 

tcb-amber-mccue
 
Amber McCue has a sweet spot for helping entrepreneurs do better business and increase their bottom line. Amber partners up with the Nicest, smartest CEOs around. Entrepreneurs come to her to build streamlined, scalable, profitable business operations without working 24/7, and they are not disappointed. She loves all things business — especially, problem solving, systems, team building, brainstorming, making money via strong revenue streams, sharing that wealth again and again in the best possible ways. You’ll find her at NiceOps.com – When you sign up you’ll get a free get efficient prioritization matrix to help you get more done and uplevel your business.
 

tcb-farideh-ceasar
 
Farideh Ceaser is a musician turned launch strategist. After 15 years on the road touring as a musician, Farideh switched gears and now helps entrepreneurs launch their big ideas and online courses. She regularly delivers her wisdom in the form of a ukelele and a song here. Grab your copy of Farideh’s free 30-Day Launch Checklist & Calendar at www.launchyourcourse.com

 

guest-theresa-reed
 
Theresa Reed (aka The Tarot Lady) is an intuitive Tarot reader, teacher, mentor and yogi on a mission to take Tarot from hippie to hip. When she’s not reading tarot, she’s busy helping broke-ass mystics learn how to create sustainable + profitable businesses. If you are ready for straight talkin’ tarot and a side of biz whizz, get to her online hood: The Tarot Lady or follow her on Twitter @thetarotlady.
 

guest-kiri-mohan
 
Kiri has been working in the administrative field since she was 15 years old. What started off as a part-time job after high school blossomed into a full-time business when she realized she loved supporting people but wanted more flexibility than corporate America provided. Currently a Virtual Assistant for almost four years, she is constantly striving to figure out ways to make other people’s lives easier. Kiri is a Mount Holyoke College graduate and currently lives outside of Boston, MA with her family. In her spare time she blogs about Star Wars, drinks tea, and eats olives.
 

guest-linda-johannessen
 
Linda Laegreid Johannessen is the founder and CEO of YAY Images, a stock image agency that’s the Spotify version of affordable, licensed images. For just $9.90 a month, you have access to 5 million (!!!) images that are perfect for blog posts, newsletters, and social media. She’d love it if you took advantage of a free month of photos or followed along on Twitter.

3 Under-Rated Pieces of Copy that Make a Difference to Your Coaching Business

3 Under-Rated Pieces of Copy that Make a Difference to Your Coaching Business

guest-kate-erlenbusch
 
When you think of the must-have copy for your coaching business, your mind probably envisions a snappy Bio, authentic About Page and stellar Sales Page for your signature offering.

Especially when you’re starting out or in the process of upgrading your business website, the copy on your webpages may seem more important than your other communication.

Now before I launch into why these 3 under-rated pieces of copy will make a difference to your business: a little confession — these pieces aren’t technically ‘copy.’

Strictly speaking, ‘copy’ is an advertising and marketing term that refers to promotional writing designed to persuade someone to buy or influence beliefs that will prime a person to buy. And when it comes to your coaching business, your website copy must compel readers to connect with you, get on your mailing list and ultimately hire you as their coach.

But website copy is not the only copy you should consider when wanting to build a successful coaching business.

My philosophy is that every piece of your communication should be treated as a promotional tool – because it is.

That’s why it’s so important you see every piece of writing (outside of your journal), as having the power to build trust and credibility.

Here are 3 underrated pieces of copy that are absolutely essential to nail if you want to build a solid reputation as a coach.
 

Email Confirmation Letter

Your new client should receive an email confirmation letter within minutes of transferring money to you.

Even if you’ve already outlined the process of working with you on your website, you need a well-crafted email that contains three things:

  1. Genuine thanks and excitement that they’ve taken the step to work with you.
  2. A brief step-by-step description of how your process works. (Yes, even if this is on your website or you’ve spoken about it already.)
  3. One simple call-to-action that has them take the next step. (This could be filling out your questionnaire or simply marking your first session in their diary).

The intention of this piece is for your client to feel safe with you and reassured that they’ve made the right decision in choosing you as their coach. This email confirmation is a key part of handling the inevitable buyer’s remorse or doubt.

Whenever we make a significant purchase, no matter how excited we are or how amazing whatever we purchased is (and that includes coaching with you!), there is a degree of wondering if we’ve made the right decision. To build a successful coaching business you need to be proactive when it comes to buyer’s remorse. Every opportunity to turn doubt into trust must be taken.
 

Thank You Letter

We don’t think of a ‘thank you letter’ as ‘copy’, but we should. A thoughtful, well-crafted thank you letter sent to a client who has completed a coaching series with you (whether via email or handwritten and sent via a dove) communicates genuine care for their development as well as your professionalism.

Ideally you want clients to recommend you to their friends and associates without the slightest hesitation. A personal thank you letter that wraps up your time working together is an absolute essential piece of communication. It is one that I believe should be part of your must-have copy kit.

In my ideal world, we’d all be sending and receiving hand-written letters every single day. But at the very least sending a beautifully written thank you note to your coaching clients positions you favorably. (As an aside, I don’t offer a handwritten letter service yet, but if that piques your interest and your handwriting isn’t lovely, I’d be happy to write one on your behalf!)
 

Client Feedback Request

It’s no secret that building a successful coaching business requires building social proof. We all value testimonials because other people raving about you is understandably more effective than…. you raving about you.

What scares most coaches starting out is the prospect of *actually asking* for testimonials. So don’t ask for a testimonial. Ask for feedback instead.

Crafting a client feedback request that doesn’t feel like an arduous feedback form to your time-poor clients is key to building a successful coaching business. This is because you need social proof and people will only give it to you when it’s not hard for them. That’s why I see the client feedback email as a must-have piece of copy.

Even though I’m not a coach, as a copywriter I’ve observed what works for me as well as for my clients who are coaches. After observation and experimentation, I believe eliciting feedback effectively comes down to these three elements.

  1. Fewer questions = thoughtful answers
  2. I love writing and even I don’t like filling out surveys or lengthy forms. So keep your feedback form simple. When I first started out I developed six feedback questions for my clients. Now I have just three. The number doesn’t actually matter. What’s more important is that each question elicits an open, rather than closed response. Posing fewer questions means your client doesn’t feel daunted by the prospect of giving feedback.

  3. Make it casual
  4. By adopting a ‘no pressure’ stance, one that a) conveys how much you’ve loved working with your client and b) invites their thoughts on your service, you client is more likely to respond on the spot. While some people prefer to think through their responses (and that’s ok), ideally you want giving feedback to feel like a no-brainer so your client provides it sooner rather than later. If the request feels too heavy or even desperate, your client will feel pressured and may avoid it.

  5. Timing is everything
  6. If you get the timing right, you may not even need to send your official client feedback request to elicit that blow-your-mind testimonial. You can still send your client feedback request later, but pay attention to the gushing odes of praise that arrive in your inbox. Whenever I get one of those spontaneous love notes (side note: mine always contain swear words!) – I know that all I have to do is re-jig it into a testimonial and get my client’s permission to publish it on my Praise Page. I used to think I was somehow not allowed to do this, like I had to be very official with getting feedback. But how easy and fun for both you and your client to take their spontaneous praise and turn it into a testimonial – no further work required.

So when you’re upgrading your copy – or considering hiring a professional copywriter to write copy for you – remember to think beyond your website copy.
Every piece of communication is a promotional tool, Make sure all your words – from those on your website to your client thank you notes – are doing you justice.

 
Kate Erlenbusch is a writer, teacher and the force behind Word Love, a digital copywriting service and virtual playspace for creatives, coaches and big-hearted business owners who want to sell and serve with soul. When Kate’s not searching for the right words she’s searching for her car keys, or the meaning of last night’s dream. Download Kate’s free eBook 7 Cheeky Secrets of Writing that Sells & Serves at wordlovebykate.com.

How to promote your business on Facebook (without feeling yucky)

How to promote your business on Facebook (without feeling yucky)

guest-jackie-johnstone
 

I asked a group of coaches the number one thing they struggled with on Facebook–can you guess the most common answer? Promoting themselves and their services.

Because it feels ‘icky’ or you’ve seen people do it badly and it turned you off. Or you just have no idea how to do it gracefully.

But here’s the thing: we are in business. We have to make the ask every once and awhile. People need to know how they can work with us. And, I’m sure you’ve heard this one before–but it bears repeating–if your services help people (and I know they do!!), then you are actually doing your people a disservice by not proactively offering them up.

There are absolutely ways to promote yourself without without feeling icky and like you are an annoying “if you buy in the next 5 minutes…” infomercial.
 

#1: NO MORE THAN 20-25% OF YOUR CONTENT SHOULD BE PROMOTIONAL

We talked about this in my Facebook Page checklist post last month (and you can grab the full 4 pillars training in my bio below) but a well-rounded Facebook presence includes content from all 4 pillars: Attraction, Education, Engagement and Advertising. People are not on social media to be sold to and the first 3 pillars are what Gary Vaynerchuk classifies as ‘Jabs’ in his brilliant social media handbook Jab Jab Jab Right Hook:

“Without a proper combination of jabs to guide you customer–I mean, your opponent–right where you want him, your right hook could be perfect and your opponent could still dodge it as easily as a piece of dandelion fluff. Precede that perfectly executed right hook with a combination of targeted, strategic jabs, however and you will rarely miss.”

Provide inspiration & entertainment, curate the best resources from across your industry and really TALK to your audience and you’ll be building a loyal audience who is ready for your ‘Right Hooks’ (promotional posts).
 

#2: MAKE YOUR ADVERTISING CONTENT INTERESTING

Seriously. I know I’ve called it ‘Advertising’ content but it shouldn’t feel like an Ad, even though it does need to make a clear ask.

I believe it’s important to put as much (or better yet MORE) thought into your Advertising content as you would for any of the other pillars. Make it interesting, useful, entertaining, of the highest quality and with a clear call to action. You are asking for something but it shouldn’t feel annoying or like it’s interrupting your fans Facebook experience.

And guess what? This usually means great ‘Advertising’ posts have an element of one (or more!) of the other 3 non-promotional pillars. Here are 4 fantastic examples of this:

Attraction + Advertising

 
Not only is this a great way to ask for newsletter sign-ups, these Truthbombs work double duty for Danielle LaPorte because they get shared so much they are also great Attraction content.
 
Education + Advertising

 
These Daily Diary Video Tips by stylist Nicole Longstreath deliver solid educational content (by answering questions her ideal clients are asking) while also naturally advertising her services and her free opt-in.
 
Engagement + Advertising

 
This is an absolutely brilliant piece of Advertising content from Pat Flynn asking his fans to vote for his podcast. And he did this for two weeks–every single day voting was open. Not at all annoying + very cute peeps into his day-to-day life. (I’m willing to bet this tactic netted him A LOT of votes–certainly more than just “another reminder to vote for the SPI podcast”.)
 
Education + Engagement + Advertising

 
Advertising content doesn’t need to be fancy! In this plain-text post, Leonie Dawson shares a helpful, educational tip on managing the social media time suck, asks her audience to share their biggest biz time suck AND slips in a link to her Double your Biz program.

Do any of these examples make you feel icky or like you are being “sold” to? I’m going to go out a limb (not really) and say NOPE! Not even a little bit.

(PS: I know we were specially talking about Facebook here, but these concepts apply to ANY social network.)

TAKE ACTION

Choose one thing you’d like to promote or advertise this week. Think about it through the lens of either Attraction, Education or Engagement content and draft a post to share on your Facebook Page.

Want some feedback? Come share your post idea in the comments over on The Coaching Blueprint Facebook Page in the next 2 weeks and I’ll help you refine it!
 

Jackie Johnstone is a social media consultant for passionate entrepreneurs with an important message to share. She’s on a mission to help you banish tech headaches, reach more people, make real connections and change more lives.

Get your social media brimming with brilliant posts your audience will love! Grab Jackie’s free training here and get everything you need to start using the 4 Pillars of Great Social Media Content in your business.

You can find Jackie all over the social web but she’d love to connect with you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!