Michelle and I started our lifestyle platform and brand, The Sister Project, many moons ago, back in 2015.
Since the launch, a lot has changed.
Our sister, Nicole, left the blog in 2017 to pursue real estate, we rebranded our entire look and niche in 2018, Cozy Conversations podcast launched in 2020, The Sister Project candles were released in 2021, and we have grown and monetized more this year alone than in any other year prior.
In the eight years that we have been managing, growing, and building our online brand and business we have learned a ton.
Including what doesn’t work.
Michelle and I love to joke that we are really really smart, but sometimes slow to catch on to the best course of action. Nevertheless, we always get to where we need to be.
We’ve been asked on many occasions for advice on getting a small business, social media platform, and brand up and running, so we thought we’d share what we’ve learned along the way as well as implement on a daily basis.
After all, we wouldn’t be here if certain women didn’t take time out of their lives to help guide us.
So, from one small business to another (or maybe you’re a big business that can use some tweaking) here are some of our best business tips and tricks.
Your platform is never too small to monetize.
Whether you have 500 followers or 500,000, you can monetize your platform. Saying that you can’t is like saying that a small mom-and-pop clothing store has no right flipping the open-for-business sign because there is a Nordstrom in the next town over.
Do you have an audience? Yes? Then you have an opportunity to make some bucks.
Sidenote: There are many brands out there that LOVE working with micro-influencers. They are very much in the know that there is a sweet spot there in the industry.
Delegate and/or outsource duties.
If you have a partner, determine who is good at what and let them do it.
For example – Michelle edits our podcasts and I write and produce them. I handle all of our social media and Michelle is in charge of all administrative aspects of TSP. Together we make a lot happen, but individually we know our strengths…and weaknesses.
We outsource our graphic design, website design, and programming.
In full transparency, we need to outsource a couple more things, which we plan to do in the near future. Specifically, we are taking leads to help assist us in getting guest appearances on other podcasts. If you know of anyone, please send us their contact info. Please and thank you!
Use apps to help manage your business.
Trello helps us manage our podcast, content calendar, brand partnerships, to-do lists, you name it! It allows both of us to see our workflow, check updates, content deadlines, and hopefully not screw anything up.
By next week we will be moving all communication to Slack and in time we will be utilizing Hubspot to help us keep track of outreach.
Planoly does the trick for planning Instagram posts and Canva is a wonderful tool for creating any creatives you need!
Consider hosting a website.
Social media apps are good and dandy, but what are you going to do if one day that guy who owns every platform starts charging you money, closes the app, or starts monitoring what you want to post (more than they already do)?
Creating a space on the internet that you own and manage is a lot of work, but it’s all yours and you get to do whatever you damn well please with it. It’s totally worth it.
Plus, it’s another space you can create content for as well as monetize.
At a certain point, your work cannot be for free.
For a long time, we created content for free and/or for trade.
However, when the clock struck midnight and the year turned 2022, we agreed that we could and would no longer spend hours creating large content projects for free. This is our business and we’re working women.
Our content and the exposure it gets on our platform is worth money. So is yours.
Now, we still do mentions and mini pieces of content if it’s something we love and just want to show some love for. OR if it’s a big brand that we want to work with and we need to sweet talk them a little bit by showing them what we can do.
We call that flirting.
Get headshots taken.
You will need these for your media kit, website, social media profile photos, LinkedIn, a guest appearance on a podcast, a guest speaker opportunity, heck maybe even your dating app…the list goes on and on.
Get a blowout, have some good lighting, hire a photographer, and say cheese.
You will be so happy you did this.
Have a media kit and rate sheet.
A media kit is a glimpse of who you are and what you do. It has your stats, a short bio, your headshot, logo (if you have one), media mentions, and contact information.
You can make these yourself using Canva templates as there are a ton of options.
Another option is to have a graphic designer create one for you.
The same goes for the rate sheet. Once you start corresponding and pitching businesses and brands you want to work with, you will be sending one or both of these out on the regular.
Create a newsletter and grow that mailing list.
We got this piece of advice from The Goaldigger Podcast by Jenna Kutcher at the beginning of The Sister Project and it was one of the best pieces of advice we ever got.
Having direct access to your community via their email address helps you get messages straight into their inbox. And again, in the event Instagram shuts down or has a major glitch – at least you can still keep in contact with your people.
A newsletter is also another great opportunity to make some bucks. You can sell spaces of sponsored portions for brands you love working with!
Honestly, crafting our weekly newsletter is one of my favorite parts of the job. I LOVE sending it out.
We use MailChimp Pro.
Here’s another zinger of a tip we got when we first started. If you’re going to publish blog posts, pick a day of the week or month and publish it on the regular. The same goes for podcast episodes, newsletters, or any other content that you know your community expects to see from you.
It will also help you meet your own deadlines and stay on top of your priorities.
While you’re at it, be authentic.
Show the world who you are in your most authentic way. When trying to become insta-successful it’s easy to go to great lengths to find your place in a very saturated world.
Yes, there is something to be said for creating excitement and standing out, but if you’re exhausted by the effort you have to put into your presence on a social media app, well, then take a nap and revisit how you can most authentically show up.
Brand colors and a logo.
Create a style guide for your business and brand.
When Michelle and I rebranded with a cozy twist to our platform we knew that a house had to be a part of our logo. Nothing is cozier than a cozy home with a little smoke coming out of the chimney, am I right?
We worked with our graphic designer, Hillary Weber, to create our logo along with the fonts we loved as well as colors to represent our brand.
In everything we do, from our website to our media kit, business cards, and social media…our brand colors and/or logo are always visible. It makes it easy for people to connect the dots and it keeps our platforms cohesive.
Get business cards and hand them out like a ho.
That’s what Michelle and I do on the regular. If I have a conversation with a stranger that surpasses “hello, how are you?” I don’t depart without handing them a card.
Pro tip: Put a QR code to your website, podcast, Instagram handle, or online shop on the back of your card. You want to make it VERY easy for them to find your business.
Know your niche and/or elevator pitch.
We struggled with this for far too long because the truth is, we had neither.
Sure, we knew we were a “lifestyle blog” but so was everyone else and their mother when we first started. It truly took us years to find our place in this space.
Ask yourself: Who are you and what do you offer to your community?
Ours is: We’re a lifestyle brand and platform that specializes in cozy, mindful, well-being, with a heavy dose of wheezy laughing and sisterhood.
Get over the fear of rejection.
Michelle is a pro at this. She will literally slip into anyone’s DM and ask for contact info to pitch a collaboration or guest appearance on our podcast.
It took me a minute to follow in her footstep, but now I love nothing more than reaching out to potential brands, guests, and new weird internet friends. There’s a thrill in the chase!
Take time for yourself and self-care.
Working for yourself is no walk in the park. It takes up all of your time, energy, and creativity. Pile on being a mom (if you are one), managing a home, and possibly having another job on top of the business you’re building and holy crap, you’re plate is FULL.
Be sure to have your boundaries, set time aside for physical movement, eat well, meditate, hire a coach or therapist, have a glass of wine, take your CBD (or pop a low dose edible), and connect with your people.
Find the fun in working really really hard.
This is one of the most important pieces of the entrepreneur puzzle. There is no doubt that being an entrepreneur is a shit ton of work. We work in the morning, at night, and sometimes while on vacation, but the truth is, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
It has taken A LOT of work just to get where we are and there is so much more for us to do and places for us to go. It’s going to take a lot more work to get us there, but I’d rather work my ass off for myself than for someone else.
And honestly, it’s fun!
We hope this mini-guide of biz tips helps you grow your business! We’d love to hear in the comments your best piece of business advice!
TO LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST, “COZY CONVERSATIONS WITH THE SISTER PROJECT”, PLEASE STREAM ON SPOTIFY, APPLE, ANCHOR.COM, OR ANYWHERE ELSE YOU STREAM PODCASTS.
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