May Deal – Pay What You Think Is Fair

A couple of weeks ago maybe, as I was sitting in my office staring out the window, I was overcome with how much my life has changed and how overwhelmingly grateful I am for so much.

A couple of years ago life was upended. All at once. As is life’s prerogative. Initially, this was not o.k.

Not. O.k. At. All.

I was fond of saying “It’s fine if my work life is chaos as long as my home life isn’t.” And vice versa. This was not that. This was all chaos all the time.

A couple of months ago, the last of that chaos worked it’s way out of the picture.

And that’s how I came to be looking out my office window a couple of weeks ago. That office, that window, that view, are the end result of all that chaos. And the view feels good.

HeyAmyLou came to be during all that chaos. And now is the time to celebrate.

So, HeyAmyLou is making May Pay What You Think Is Fair Pricing Month for our newsletter production and design services, mailing list development and maintenance, or website development services.

You tell us what you think is fair pricing. HeyAmyLou will  give you the same great service, product and attention you always get.

HeyAmyLou is a company built around ethics, respect, family, and fun. We take pride in the ability to meet our client’s needs. Pay What You Think Is Fair Month is our virtual cake and candles celebration. A big WHOO-HOO! We MADE it!

We want you and your business to make it, too.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

*image created with Canva.

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Newsletters Are The Backbone Of Any Good Business

We just spent more time than most people would consider reasonable researching award-winning newsletters.

And after we write this post, we’re probably going to hide the rest of today’s to-do list in a drawer and conduct even more research (research should probably be in quotes here, because this certainly doesn’t feel like work).

Want to see some award-winners?

Webby has you covered.  Here’s 2016 and 2015, for starters.

There’s more inspiration here and here, as well as here and here.  Mailchimp makes inspiration a part of their routine. Constant Contact does, too, although their inspiration isn’t really that inspiring, ioho.

Let’s back up, though. There’s a lot of work that goes into actually designing an award winning newsletter. And, even if you’re not out to win any awards, designing and managing a newsletter is lots of work.

Here at HeyAmyLou, these are some of the tools we use:

Mailchimp is our email marketing platform. It’s user-friendly, fairly robust and cost-effective for most small businesses.

Canva for creating graphics, either with our own photography, or images supplied by Canva.

Creative Market and Death to Stock Photo for images.* When we don’t have our own and Canva’s just aren’t doing it for us, we’ll reach out to one of these three for commercial-use photos. Creative Market is priced by the image. Death to Stock Photo has a basic pack that’s $15 a month and has a sizeable library.

Pictaculous and Paletton for color schemes.

We like Easel.ly for infographics, although Canva is a good option, too. We recently completed an infographic for a client’s annual report depicting the different countries where her subscribers live.

From there, it’s all about the marketing. That’s what a newsletter is, right? Email marketing. It’s all about branding, design responsiveness, effective communication, and compliance.

Newsletter design isn’t for everyone and there’s no shame in that. Chances are you went into business to do anything but design newsletters, right? And it’s probably taking up more of your time than you want it to. Or worse yet, you’ve put off doing it simply because you know it’s not something you want to spend time on.

Here’s the thing, though. We wrote a post on the very fact that email is not dead. In fact, it’s one of the best methods of generating revenue for your business when used correctly (as in, no spamming, quality call-to-action when applicable). Plus, unlike social, email marketing is still controlled by the user, not the platform. In other words, online friendships (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, all those platforms we’re told will revolutionize our marketing) do not change the fundamentals of friendship. Or loyalty. Email marketing can, when used correctly, foster loyalty to a brand.

Hiring someone to design and manage your newsletter doesn’t mean hiring someone to do the fun stuff:  picking colors, making infographics and writing the content for your newsletter, although a quality newsletter designer also works with your brand color scheme, designs infographics based on your content, and formats your content to fit the chosen design.

Hiring someone to design and manage your newsletter means  hiring someone to manage compliance, DMARC, mailing list maintenance (bounces, duplicates and unsubscribes) and deal with every glitchy design platform that never puts the text box/photo/headline/video were you want it, no matter how much time you spend trying.

Hiring someone to design and manage your newsletter means hiring someone who gives you back the time to do what it was you wanted to do when you went into business in the first place. The thing you do that doesn’t feel like work. The thing you’d do for free if money weren’t an option. Is that thing producing newsletters? For HeyAmyLou, it is

So, why not hire someone to design and manage your newsletter? What’s stopping you?

*As with all content, always, always, always abide by the terms of service, and credit the work.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

 

I Like Newsletters

I do. It’s true.

As A reader, I look forward to seeing them in my inbox. I have complete control over what lands in my inbox, unlike Facebook, Twitter and other platforms that want to “curate a user experience” for me. I can read them on my time as opposed to having to drop everything and read it right now or run the risk of watching is swallowed up by the increasingly unmanageable “timeline”.

As someone who not only reads them but creates them, I believe they are one of the most cost effective, efficient and client-centric ways to communicate. I wrote a post here discussing the benefits of newsletters. Short answer: developing and sharing content of importance to your clients is one of the best ways to illustrate loyalty and commitment to your clients, as well as showcasing your expertise. Newsletters, done correctly, are personal.

As a reader, some of my favorite newsletters are: Austin Kleon, DO Lectures, and HeyAmyLou.

As a creator, I find inspiration from Really Good Emails, CreativeMornings curated list, and Mailchimp’s Look What You Can Do.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

Email Is Not Dead

“newsletter” by dacian dorca-street photographie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Have I mentioned HeyAmyLou is going online? Well, HeyAmyLou trainings are going online. We’re taking the leap and offering our training workshops online.  If you’re interested in knowing more, sign up here and you’ll be the first to know when our curriculum is set and our trainings are live. (In-person still exists. We’re putting more emphasis on those starting in July).

Anyway. Online training is an entirely different ballgame in some ways. Some things  don’t change, though, regardless of how the audience consumes the knowledge.

For instance, compiling and maintaining a quality mailing list. Critical. Online or in-person.  And communication. Also critical. Facebook? Maybe. Twitter, maybe. Email marketing, definitely.

Facebook runs off of algorithms. Seemingly feeding each of us a “curated” experience based upon our “likes”.  Twitter operates much the same. At some point, these platforms decide they know us and it all becomes very passive.

Email, however, requires each of us to engage. Do I want this? Will I read this? We’re required to think about what we are signing up for (no pun intended).

And email is still the most effective communication channel. It defines the phrase “customized experience” simply because we are each in control of what comes into and what goes out of our inboxes.

Some statistics:

  • Email marketing works 40 times better at getting customers than Facebook and Twitter. McKinsey
  • You are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet.- Campaign Monitor
  • Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. – McKinsey
  • 72% people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media. – MarketingSherpa

So, as we move forward with online trainings, we’re over here working on our mailing lists and our email marketing strategies to reach those who would benefit most.

What are you doing with your email marketing?

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

Super Bowl 2017

“Football” by Jeff Turner is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This year, I did the unthinkable. I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. I had what I think is a good reason — I’m learning how to produce online courses, and I’ll talk more about that in a sec. Anyway, I was knee deep in one of the learning modules Sunday and lost track of time.

I’m a huge fan of the Super Bowl. Not the game itself, really. The commercials. I watch solely for the commercials. I’m not gonna say I don’t get caught up in the game, that’s just not why I’m there. I’m there for the ads. One year (2013, maybe?) I even live-tweeted the ads. I’m a complete and total geek for the ads.

This year, though, I only saw two or three of the commercials. Budweiser and T-Mobile and Kia (nice touch on the Bonnie Tyler). So I went hunting for the replays. Because there’s always a lot of commentary about the replays.

For instance:

  • GNC is thinking of suing Fox for banning their ad over the presence of DHEA in some of their products. (Watch the 30-second spot here.)
  • Ad Exec’s think National Geographic’s “Bad Romance” is the best Super Bowl ad of 2017. Can we please be done with the sticking out of the tongue, Albert Einstein?
  • Cards Against Humanity (CAH) put up a fake Super Bowl ad with the accompanying explanation (which I would think is genius, except for all of the other fake everything these days.)
  • CAH is not wrong about the cost. Budweiser needs to sell almost 5 million six-packs, for example, to make back the cost of a Super Bowl ad. H&R Block would have to sign up 285,796 users, and Wendy’s would have to sell 963,391 burgers.
  • Depending on who you talk to, it’s either the wisest way to waste money, or advertising is in a death spiral.
  • Probably the most interesting thing I learned from this year’s advertising “after-party” involved the making of the Hyundai ad. It didn’t run until after the Super Bowl because they were capturing and editing footage of the game in real time with soldiers and their families to illustrate what real sacrifice looks like.

So yeah, no Super Bowl ads this year. And I gotta say, the “after-party” without the event itself isn’t nearly as fun.

What was fun was figuring out how to offer online courses, though, and HeyAmyLou is going to go all in this spring, offering our first ever digital training. We’re super excited to think that we’ll be able to reach a bigger audience, in the comfort of their own space, while continuing to provide cutting edge content. Watch this space for more details in the coming weeks, and for a chance to help us test run our inaugural course.

And until then, February’s deal is still on. Looking to put up or refresh a website? We’ve got everything you need to make it happen. And, my domain registration company is currently having a sale, which means even more savings for you!

P.S. If you’re interested, my 2016 Super Bowl Write Up is here, 2013 is here, and my first ever, 2012, is here (although the video has been taken down).

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

Are Our Websites Actually Working For Us?

Everyone needs a complicated, multi-layered website, right? (hint: wrong).  It’s gotta have moving parts, flashy design, lots of tabs and most definitely lots of words, right? (hint: wrong).

Too much of a good thing can be bad. Really bad.

Have you heard of heatmaps? Probably not, and that’s not bad. I’m a geek for all things design and think spending a Saturday afternoon with heatmaps is fun. And it’s perfectly ok if you don’t see things my way.

Heatmaps are this cool tool used to track where users spend time on websites. They’re designed to work in one of two ways, mousetracking or eyetracking. Yep, tracking where a person’s eye lands on a website is actually a thing.

Heatmaps are also very expensive things, as you can imagine. And, unless you think spending Saturday afternoons watching heatmaps work is time well spent, they’re kinda unnecessary.

Because, you see, other people’s heatmaps (and good old-fashioned newspaper design) can teach us a lot about how users engage with websites, without all the cost and coding necessary to install a heatmap on your site.

For Instance:

  • People spend more time on the left side of the page.
  • People have developed “banner blindness”. Think Facebook. How often do you pay attention to all the ads on the right side of your screen? Most people are blind to them. Avoid mimicking that design on your own site.
  • The most important content should be at the top of your site, or “above the fold”. Here’s where good old-fashioned newspaper design comes in. Journalists know to put the most important stories above the fold in their newspapers. The digital equivalent of a “fold” is the length of your screen. All the gold should be captured on your website without having to scroll.
  • “Above the fold” pt 2 – viewing time decreases sharply below the fold. People will scroll, but we have a short attention span. The further the content is away from the top of the screen the less attention a person has in reading it.
  • When using images of people, it matters where there eyes are “looking”.
  • There’s something known as a recency effect. Essentially, what we see last, we remember longest.

So, with all that in mind, what is your website saying? In our over-scheduled, multi-tasking existence, is your website designed to convert visitors into customers, or do they get lost below the fold and lose interest?

HeyAmyLou’s February Deal can answer that. The first 5 people to contract with us this month for a website design*  or refresh will receive a free audit of their existing site.  We’ll evaluate your current site’s overall design, ease of use and responsiveness.  Normally $150, this month we’re waiving the cost because we want your site work for you, not the other way around.

*If you’re designing your site from scratch, we’ll subtract $150 off the total cost of the design.

Consults on our monthly deals are always free. Schedule one today by emailing us at heyal@amylouthatswho.com and let’s see how HeyAmyLou can support your small business.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

This Is Your Year

Are you ready to make your small business the best it can be? Have you decided that the best use of your time doesn’t include website maintenance or social media marketing? Or maybe this is the year to turn your part-time dream into a full-time gig (congratulations you!). HeyAmyLou wants to help and we’ve got just the right tools and services to strengthen you and your business.

During the month of January many of our services are specially priced because we believe in you and want to be there when you succeed.

  • Website Design and Maintenance
  • Newsletter Production and Design
  • Mailing List Development and Maintenance
  • Marketing Audits
  • Client Scheduling Software Setup and Support
  • One-on-One Collaboration
  • Training – We’re expanding our trainings this year, including how to create the perfect social media plan for your clients / customers and emergency preparedness for small businesses. Trainings can be conducted in small groups or one-on-one.

And, you can receive 20% off any service Feb-Dec. 2017 when your friends hire HeyAmyLou.

Contact us today to bring your small business dream to life.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

cross-posted to IrishYogaChick

How, And More Importantly, When To Delegate (pt. 2)

Click here for a free download.

This is the second of a two part discussion on delegating. And It’s backwards from the title. To read pt 1 “The When”, click here.

It’s time to discuss the “How”. Delegating can be (who am I kidding? For small business owners like us, delegating IS) scary. Deciding what to hand over to someone else is one thing. Deciding who to hand it over to is another thing entirely.

I recently had an unsolicited email from someone looking to “partner with” me to “enhance” my business. I’m using quotation marks here because I consider those words and phrases to be red flags. My choice of a “partner” in my business is wholly my decision and certainly won’t be made based on an unsolicited email. And anyone who wants to “enhance” my business with no concrete follow up on how (see what I did there?) they plan to do that hasn’t researched my business. At all.

Which this person hadn’t. After a little back and forth it turns out this person wasn’t aware of my website, my blog (I have two), my fairly robust Twitter and Instagram presence (although lately both have been taken over by Pokemon Go) or my weekly client newsletter (all things this person wanted to charge me heftily to implement). And, as an added extra bonus, after I politely stated  I wasn’t in the market for any new employees at this time the next (very lengthy) email I got was an aggressive, argumentative still-unsolicited commentary on what I was doing “wrong”.

I’m super thick-skinned, so it mostly made me laugh. Until a couple of days later when I started thinking about how other small business owners would handle an aggressive, ego-centered, cookie cutter approach to out-sourcing.

Here are my tips:

  1. Skip the elance-type online freelance market. There’s rarely any actual relationship-building. Why would you trust any part of your company to someone who will always be a virtual (no pun intended) stranger. Instead, opt for referrals. Talk to your friends, family, the people you see at yoga class or your cycling peloton. Chances are they know someone who does the tasks you want to delegate.
  2. Meet with them. In-person. A real sit-down-and-let’s-talk meeting. Not at a networking function or while walking to your car after a super-sweaty workout at your shared gym. A scheduled meeting devoted to discussing your needs and their skills.
  3. Do your homework. Know what you want them to do for you.
  4. Pay attention to how they respond to #3 above. Do they immediately launch into a pitch offering you a “suite” of services? Walk. No, run, from that. This is someone who didn’t hear much of what you just said in favor of trying to sell you a typically high-dollar low return package of services that you pay for whether you use or not.

    There is no cookie-cutter approach to your business. I cannot stress this enough. 

  5. (this is actually 4b) The correct answer to #3 above usually goes something like this: “I’ve researched your company and I’ve noticed x, y and z. Here are some of my ideas”. Followed by a fairly in-depth analysis of their findings that incorporates what they just learned about you when you told them what you want them to do for you. This is telling in two ways: First, they did their homework. They’re interested in getting to know you and your business. That’s a good sign. Second, they’re good listeners who are willing to mold their expertise to fit your needs.
  6. Always, always, always skip the freelancer with the aggressive, high pressure pitch. It’s a good sign that how they act during your first meeting is how they will always act. Do you want to invite (and pay for) that kind of pressure into your business?
  7. If, after all this you still can’t find the right fit for your business, contact me. Seriously. If we don’t work together I’ll make sure you have resources to keep you moving toward finding the person you do want to hire.

And, one other note. It’s not ok to ask a freelancer to do free or spec. work as a “try out”. It’s disrespectful. If you like them and want to work with them on a temporary basis to see if they’re going to be a good fit in the long run, say so. Then give them a short term paid project.

And now, as promised, a free download of the first draft of my newest time management tool.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved

 

How, And More Importantly, When To Delegate (pt. 1)

Sneak peek of my newest time management tool.
Read part 2 for a link to download it.

This is the first of a two part discussion on delegating. And it’s backwards from the title. Today the “When”. Next post will be the “How”.

So many small business owners I meet with are overwhelmed. Most are trying to Do. It. All. and they are floundering. Too much time spent on administrative time sucks and not enough time actually interacting with clients, which ultimately results in not enough cash coming in to sustain their small business.

It’s a true statement that the value of your time is exactly the same no matter what you are doing.

For instance, you’re a photographer who gets paid $175 per hour to shoot photographs. The value of your time is $175, whether you are shooting photographs or you are posting a status update on Facebook. Whether you are editing a shoot or writing a blog post. Whether you are advising a client who is setting up for a shoot or managing your newsletter mailing list.

Here’s the question: Did you start your photography business to take photographs, or did you start your business to post Facebook status updates, write blog posts and manage newsletter mailing lists?

My guess is you started your business to do what you love to do and the social media, marketing and other administrative tasks are necessary evils. Here’s the kicker: as a small business owner who thinks it’s up to you to do it all, you are getting paid the exact same hourly rate no matter what you are doing.

Why not actually earn money doing what you love to do and delegate the necessary evils to someone who gets paid to do what they love to do. Quite possibly it’s a true statement that you have the skills to update Facebook, write blog posts and manage mailing lists.

It’s also a true statement that just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

While you are doing those things, who is out taking photos, editing shoots, and advising your clients? Not you.

And then there’s this:  Who is paying you to do what you love to do? Your client. Who is paying you to post Facebook status updates, write blog posts and manage newsletter mailing lists.?

YOU are.

You are paying yourself the exact same $175 in lost revenue that your client could be paying you in actual cash. Is it cost effective not to delegate?

Here’s a pretty nifty exercise. It’s the exact same blog post with a “fill in the blanks” option. Click this link and fill in the blanks with what it is you do and the hourly rate you get paid to do it and then re-read and see what happens.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved

Weekly Wrap-Up 5-14-2016

This week’s newsletter is here.  Previous newsletters are are here and hereThis is a multi-week wrap up.

There’s always stuff that doesn’t make it into the newsletter. Here’s this week’s list:

The Essential Guide To Social Media Marketing

The Feed Is Dying I disagree that most users are unable to curate their own feeds.

The Struggle Against Internet Overload Is Real “Frankly, when people are looking for an escape from the Internet, they usually search the Internet for answers.” Don’t stop there. The very next paragraph is pretty sobering.

Pair the above with this and then schedule time to go outside.

7 Reasons Introverts Now Rule The World They aren’t ball hogs.

Apple Destroyed My Will To Collect Music One of those moments when I found myself reading this article and thinking, “wow, me too”, and becoming rather sad.

TV Of The Week
The Night Manager
, on AMC. Throwback to a a time when tv was suspenseful with being hit over the head, beautifully shot, and all-around fun.

And, I must confess, I’m one of the few (10 ,tops?) who thoroughly enjoyed the finale of The Good Wife. I thought it so nuanced that Alicia standing alone in (the very same?) hallway 7 seasons later was simultaneously a comment on how far she’d come and a comment on how much she’d become like those who hurt her in Season 1. Brilliant.

Video Of The Week

This Week’s Music*:
I have weekly playlists over on Spotify*. I ‘m not convinced it’s possible to share them. Therefore, it’s highly unlikely this link will work unless you have a Spotify account.  So, here’s what’s on it this week.

  • Sweet: Ballroom Blitz
  • Michael Franti: The Sound of Sunshine
  • Stevie Nicks: Beauty and the Beast
  • Billy Paul: Me and Mrs. Jones
  • The Jeff Healey Band: While My Guitar Gently Weeps
  • Earth Wind & Fire: September
  • No One Will Ever Love You: Connie Britton & Charles Esten

*I believe in paying all artists for their work. Streaming music services allow for the discovery of new music, or reminders of great music I haven’t thought about in a while. I hope that if you hear something you like you’ll consider purchasing the song (or album) for your own collection.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2016 – All rights reserved