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How to Create a Blog Reader Survey

A blog reader survey is more than learning about WHO is in your audience. Creating effective reader surveys help you tune your blog content (and products) toward the needs of your audience, resulting in greater page views and profits.

Don’t believe me? In this post, you will learn:

  • Why a reader survey is important
  • How to survey your blog readers
  • Questions to ask in a reader survey
  • How to use the survey results

A blog reader survey is more than learning about WHO is in your audience. Creating effective reader surveys help you tune your blog content (and products) toward the needs of your audience, resulting in greater page views and profits.Are you scratching your head and wondering what your readers want from your blog? Maybe you have spent time writing blog posts that they never share. Perhaps you even launched a product that no one bought.

Ummm… have you considered asking your readers what they need?

Conducting a reader survey is a simple and fast way to know more about your audience. <— That’s value-packed information! Once you know your reader’s biggest problems, you can provide solutions through engaging content and products.

Learn to Create Digital Products Your Audience Will Buy!

Before we get to the products, do you realize how important it is to know who your readers are?

I hear you saying, “Yes and that’s why I have a target audience.”

GREAT! Creating a target audience/avatar helps you define your ideal reader. By narrowing your audience to similar interests, you create a more profitable blog without needing more page views.

But, how do you know if you are actually connecting with your avatar?

It’s time to conduct a reader survey.

How to Survey Your Blog Readers

Surveying your readers is not a difficult process. It can be as simple as asking one question in each email or social media post and recording the answers. However, you must start with a purpose for your survey.

What the purpose of a blog reader survey?

We have agreed that you need to know who your audience is and what they need, but asking your readers a bunch of questions will not help you unless you already have a purpose in mind.

What exactly do you want to know from your readers? And “what do you like hearing from me” or “what do you want to hear from me next” is not exact.

As a matter of fact, I would challenge you to NEVER ask your readers that question. Why?

Because that puts too much pressure on the reader to create your editorial calendar. Most people will see those questions and shrug, “I don’t know so I will skip it.” You need to plant the thought – the direction you want to take – and allow the reader to respond.

While polling your blog readers IS about gathering information, a blog survey is a tool for clarifying your next step, blog post, product idea.


Several years ago, I had a product idea but wasn’t sure if my audience has interest in the topic. So, I conducted a reader survey and chose the questions with my end goal in mind… finding out if they would buy.

I asked a total of SEVEN questions.

Want to see a REAL example of a previous reader survey?

Sign up for FREE access to the Blogger Resource Library.

Of those questions, FOUR were to gauge the product interest. ONE question was to brainstorm post ideas based on my categories, ONE question helped me find more blogs like mine (more on this below,) and the last question was open-ended so the readers could share anything about the topic they wanted me to know.

Which survey tool should you use?

You don’t need an expensive program to survey your readers. Sign up for a free account with Survey Monkey or use what I do… Google Forms.

Not sure how to do that? I walk you through the process of creating a blog reader survey in Google Forms in the video below:

Create your form and embed it into a page or post or send the link to your email subscribers.

How often should you survey your readers?

My habit is to conduct a reader survey once a year. However, if you find you are experiencing a season of rapid growth, you might consider doing it biannually.

That’s it!

Don’t overwhelm your readers with a survey every month. Yes, you will have questions that bug you in between surveys. Use those questions as conversation starters in your community or as a prompt for a reply in your newsletter. (Just remember to record your results.)

Should you host a giveaway to get more people to respond?

It depends. If you are sending your annual blog survey to email subscribers, it’s not a bad idea. However, if you are posting your questions on your blog or in your social media, do not use an incentive.

Hosting an open giveaway to get people to answer your survey is an invitation to people who stalk the internet looking for chances to win prizes. These sweepstakes pros will contaminate your results.

So don’t be afraid to survey a small portion of your audience. (Typically, only 1% of my audience ever responds.) Even if you receive fewer answers, you want those who respond to your survey to actually be readers.

Reader Survey Questions

When you are brainstorming a list of what to ask, keep these tips in mind for great reader survey questions:

1. Ask open-ended questions.

Yes or no questions might get the highest engagement because they are easy and require zero thought, but they will not give you the depth of information you receive when you ask questions that allow any answer.

When readers respond to your open-ended questions, they are providing you with an abundance of information including blog post ideas, search engine keywords, and copy for your product descriptions.


  • What is your greatest struggle in (XYZ topic)?
  • If you could change anything about (XYZ), what would it be?
  • What would you like to tell me about your family?
  • What is the most important thing to you about (XYZ)?

REMEMBER: “What do you like hearing from me” or “what do you want to hear from me next” is not an acceptable question, even if it is open-ended.

2. Focus on one (or two) topics.

Although you might have eight blog categories, your survey should focus on the topics where you plan to focus. <<— This goes back to your purpose.

If you have an idea for a series of blog posts, ask about their interest using a scale. This is a great opportunity to validate your blog post ideas and categories.


  • How interested are you in (XYZ topic)?
  • What is your hobby?
  • How concerned are you with (XYZ topic)?
  • How much time do you spend each week on (XYZ activity)?

If you are thinking beyond a blog post to a product (like a course or book), you can dig deeper and ask a follow up question about their confidence on the topic.

When the majority of your readers respond that they lack in confidence, you know you have a solid product idea.

Of course, people might need your product, but will they buy it? To determine how serious they are about your topic, ask questions based on an amount of time or money.


  • How qualified do you feel to (XYZ action)?
  • Are you planning to (XYZ activity) within the next three months?
  • How much money would you be willing to spend to solve (XYZ problem)?

3. Segment your audience.

Despite trying to attract a specific audience, many blogs often attract multiple audiences. If you are curious about why people are coming to your blog, you can ask about their greatest concern. The options should actually reflect your blog categories or a subsection of your topic.


  • Rank this list based on its importance to you.
  • Where is your primary focus right now?
  • Which of these represents your immediate goal?

4. Locate your blog twins.

While you have your audience talking to you, ask about their other favorite places.

This is not about finding and duplicating your competition. Instead, you are looking for patterns in the type of content produced or the topics covered across their favorite websites.

Also, if a reader’s responses are in line with the results you wanted (making them your ideal reader), you can guess that MORE of your target audience is reading the other blogs. When you know where your audience is, pursue them!

Build a relationship with those bloggers and guest post on their blogs.

Understanding blog survey results

When the readers have responded and you have a spreadsheet of information, it’s time to dig into the information.

What are you looking for?

As you review the blog survey results, look for patterns in their responses. What similarities do you find between your readers?

One of the biggest surprises I ever discovered about my readers was a sub-audience of grandparents who were raising their grandchildren. Another surprise was when a large majority of those responding all replied to an open-ended question with a similar struggle that I had not even considered as a potential topic.

How do you use the information?

With all of this data, you have created tremendous possibilities:

  • Make a running list of blog post ideas based on similar responses.
  • Highlight specific keywords to research in your favorite keyword tools.
  • Save key phrases to use as copywriting on a product landing page.
  • Look for a silent but connective topic that can link everything together in a product.
  • Locate affiliate marketing partners that can support your blog’s message and provide solutions for your reader’s problems.
  • Reach out to specific readers (if you collect their email addresses) and ask for clarification on a topic if needed.
  • Schedule a short phone call to get to know your ideal readers better.
  • Build relationships with the additional blogs listed for collaborations and guest posts.

Save time by using a blog reader survey to plan your content and products. You will learn more about your audience but will also experience greater success as you strive to grow a profitable blog.

Need a sample blog reader survey?

Sign up for FREE access to the Inspired Bloggers Resource Library and receive a sample blog reader survey as well as numerous other printables, audios, and videos.

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4 Mistakes Destroying Your Email Marketing Strategy

This post contains affiliate links. Opinions are my own.

When you have worked to build an email subscriber list and finally feel you have enough readers joining you for newsletters and other promotions, the journey has only begun.

In every email marketing strategy, there are hurdles along the path. Some obstacles you can avoid. Others require a change in your methods.

Are you making these email marketing strategy mistakes?

Your email isn’t delivered.

When you are spending a chunk of your valuable time each week writing emails, you expect the emails to be delivered. But if your emails land in your subscriber’s spam folder, you have ZERO chance of making a sale or building a relationship.

But how can you be certain your email will survive and make it to your subscribers’ inboxes?

Use a great email service.

I know… you could get email hosting for FREE with THIS service or THAT service, but at what cost?

Using a reputable email service is the single best thing you can do to improve your chances of avoiding spam folders. Companies like ConvertKit, Mail Chimp, and Get Response work hard at making sure they are white listed with the big Internet Service Providers and email providers like Gmail.

I personally use ConvertKit. Have you tried it?

These services understand that if you are not happy with the deliverability of your emails that you will move your business to another company. So, when email marketing rules change, they guide you through making the adjustments necessary to keep your email out of the spam folder.

Most email hosting companies list their delivery stats to keep you informed. They also check your account frequently to make sure your emails are compliant, keeping you out of hot water.

Set expectations and be consistent.

Your chances of staying in the main inbox are high when your subscribers regularly open your email. The best way to insure that – outside of providing great content that your subscribers are looking for – is to set expectations from the beginning. Let your subscribers know early on when and how often they can expect an email from you.

You can even use “foreshadowing” in your messages. For example, toward the end of your current broadcast email, mention that they can look for another email from you next Tuesday.

RELATED: Why and How to Build Your Email Subscriber List

Once you’ve set those expectations do what you can to meet them. Yes, things happen every once in a while. In general though, do your best to keep your promise and email when your readers expect it.

Doing this regularly will improve your open rates and thus your overall deliverability.

Clean up your list regularly.

Another good habit is to clean up your list regularly.

I had a list of over 100,000 email addresses, but the vast majority were useless to me because they never opened an email. So, I worked over several months to cut my list to under 20,000.

If subscribers haven’t been opening your emails for the past six months, chances are good they are no longer interested in what you have to offer.

Check your autoresponder services knowledge desk or help files to see how you can go about deleting anyone who hasn’t opened an email from you in the past six months. If that freaks you out, or you have a seasonal business, start by deleting anyone that hasn’t looked at your emails in the past year.

Following these tips and keeping an eye on email deliverability in general will make sure your emails are being read by your subscribers and that’s the point of email marketing, isn’t it?

Your subject lines lack pizzazz.

The first thing you need to get right when it comes to email marketing is the subject line. If you can’t get your subscribers to open your emails, it really doesn’t matter how good the actual email is.

It’s easy to spend a lot of time crafting a great message and then just slap a subject line on it at the end. Spend some time writing them and see what type of headline gets you good open rates. Here are five tips to get you started.

Keep the email subject line short.

You want your readers to see the entire subject line before they click it. You also want to make it easy for people to scan through their emails. Try to get your point across in 50 characters or less.

Also, pay attention to how your subject lines look on your own devices.

Another great idea is to keep a swipe file of subject lines that grabbed your attention. Even if the emails are on a very different topic, you can adapt them for your own needs.

Avoid “spammy” words.

Stay away from using any words we all associate with spam emails. Words like “sale”, “discount”, “coupon”, “free”, “limited time offer” and even “reminder” are over used and even if they don’t trigger a spam filter and actually make it to your reader’s inbox, chances are high they’ll get ignored.

Instead, start by using the emails you’re saving in your swipe file and then go back and see what subject lines got the best open rates. Try to analyze why they worked well for your market. Not everything will work well in every niche. Find the types of subject lines that get your readers to open your emails and tweak from there.

Personalize the subject line.

While personalizing emails with someone’s first name has been overused in some markets, it still works well for many of us. Give it try and see if it works for you. Don’t overdo it, but use it when you really need them to open the email.

Depending on what data you collect when your readers sign up, you can personalize other things like their location for example. Seeing the name of your state or even city in an email subject line is sure to get your attention.

Pique their curiosity.

We are all nosy and it’s hard to ignore email subject lines that sound intriguing or only tell part of the story. Using “…” at the end of your subject line will also work.

The idea here is simple: You want them to click and open the email to find out what you’re talking about or how the story ends.

Frankly the best tip when it comes to crafting compelling subject lines is to keep a swipe file of examples that got you to open the email.

You don’t email enough (or you email too much).

Wouldn’t it be nice if there was a number or a schedule you could follow? While it would be great if there was research that suggested that mailing exactly every 5 days gets you the best results every time, there is no such thing. And there’s a very good reason for it.

Every market, every niche, every audience and every person is different. While you’ll never make everyone on your list happy, there is a lot you can do to make just about any email frequency work.

Set your email schedule.

Let’s lay the ground work first. You don’t want to have too much time in between emails, or your readers will forget you. Anything less than once a month is not a good idea. In most markets and for most business models you don’t even want to mail less than twice a month.

RELATED: Step-By-Step Guide to Get Email Subscribers with Freebies (Video)

On the other end of the spectrum, you don’t want to go any higher than one email per day on average. Yes, you may have days when you have a good reason to send multiple emails, but on a weekly or bi-weekly average, you don’t want to email more than once a day.

Start by looking at what you’re doing now. Then figure out how often you want to mail:

  • Do you grow a closer connection with your market by emailing more often?
  • Do you want to drive more traffic back to your site by emailing them links frequently?
  • Do you want to grow your income by making more frequent email offers?

Once you know where you’re at and where you want to be, you can start to make a plan for getting from point A to point B.

Transition to your new routine slowly.

What you don’t want to do is to go straight from emailing once every few months to daily emails. It’ll get your readers clicking the spam button like crazy. Instead, start with monthly emails for a couple of months, then let your readers know you have more to share with them and start mailing weekly. Then a few months later, ramp it up to daily emails.

Are you making these email marketing strategy mistakes? Or find a good reason why you’re mailing them daily. For example, while you usually publish a weekly newsletter with the occasional promotional email in between, running a 15 or 30 day challenge for your readers is a great excuse to hit their inbox daily without seeming pushy or spammy.

Adjust as needed.

Listen to your audience when you get feedback on email frequency but also realize that there will always be someone complaining. Look at data like open rates to get a better feel for what frequency is working best for you and your audience.

You don’t give them what they want.

Effective marketing boils down to this: Find an audience, figure out what they need or want and then deliver it.

Email is one of the best mediums to help you do just that. And it isn’t always about selling them on a product. In fact, that isn’t at all where you want to start.

Earn the subscriber’s trust.

First you want to build a relationship with your readers.

You want them to get to know you. You want to help them out so they start to like you and trust you. Only then will you be able to make an offer and have them pull out their wallet and buy it.

Pay attention to your website stats. Programs like Google Analytics can give you a lot of information of where you’re readers came from, what page the landed on and where they were on your site when they joined your list. That data along with demographical information will tell you a lot about your audience.

Pay attention to their replies.

As you start to email your readers, they will reply and get back in touch with you. Pay attention to what they’re saying. And don’t forget to read between the lines.

Let’s say you’re in the parenting niche and you noticed that some of your readers are asking for suggestions on having more patience. They complain about being short temperate and freaking out about little things. The real issue may be lack of sleep because the baby or toddler isn’t sleeping through the night.

Survey your email subscribers.

Or consider having your readers fill out a simple little survey. It’s quick and easy to do with Google forms. Having them contribute builds a sense of community even via email.

Dig deep and see what you can learn about your market. Sometimes what they tell you they want isn’t the real issue. On the flip side, it can be helpful to ask them for suggestions. Keep the questions open ended if you want a lot to work with.

Analyze your email analytics.

Last but not least go back and look at the past emails you’ve sent. Pay attention to open rates, click through rates and unsubscribes.

If a large percentage of readers opened the email, that’s a good indication they were interested in the topic. If they clicked link to additional content, that’s even better. If on the other hand you got a lot of unsubscribes, that might be an indication that either the topic was wrong or your language and overall message didn’t click with your audience.

Use all the data and information you get back to learn more about your target audience and connect with them on a deeper level. The more you know about your subscribers, the more effective your email marketing will be.

Keeping a tidy and effective email list is instrumental in using your email list to drive website traffic and product sales. Set a reminder to check the health of your email marketing strategy regularly.

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Creating and Managing Your To Do List

Feeling overwhelmed by so many tasks and not sure where to start? Overcome this paralysis with an organized system for creating and managing your to-do list.

Hey there, Blogger! Are you feeling overwhelmed by so many tasks and not sure where to start? Overcome this paralysis with an organized system for creating and managing your to-do list.

At the beginning of the year, I was feeling buried under a running list of items needing my attention. The list seemed to grow with more tasks daily but nothing was getting accomplished. Nothing was ever marked off the list.

The overwhelming feeling stifled my creativity, and my days were spent binging on episodes of “Fixer Upper.” A blogging friend would tease me by saying, “Chip and Jojo are not going to make you a millionaire.”

But when I would sit down behind the computer, my brain would freeze.

How is it possible to have so much to do and yet not know where to start?

I was missing deadlines and making a ton of excuses.

At a mastermind weekend, I was introduced to a time management concept that changed how I approach my to-do list each day.

SCRUM for Bloggers

SCRUM is a concept designed to help teams work more efficiently on large and multi-faceted projects.

Right about now you are tempted to bounce from this post because you are thinking:

Wait… I don’t have a team. It’s just me and this tremendously long to-do list.

I understand. But watch the video and then check the video notes for how I make SCRUM work for me.

SCRUM 101 Video Notes

1 – Make your work visible

Create a list of everything that needs to happen and place the tasks in order by priority. Make your list as detailed as possible.

2 – Choose your weekly tasks

Think of your week as a “sprint.” During your sprint, how much of your list can you accomplish?

3 – Break the list down again

From your weekly sprint, pull out any larger projects and create another list of everything needing to be done for those individual projects. Rank them according to priority or date due.

Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

4 – Create your daily to-do list

Based on the list of items you decide to tackle for the week, create a to-do list for each day. Keep the highest priority items early in your week.

5 – Review your daily to-do list at the beginning of each work day

Spend 15 minutes reviewing your list of items and plan how you will create blocks of time during your day. For instance, if you only have five hours to work, create deadlines within those hours to have each task completed.

6 – Keep notes

As you work through the SCRUM process, make notes of what is working and what is not so you can be more efficient during future sprints.

Read how Amy Porterfield uses SCRUM to organize her launch team.

Tools for To-Do List Management

You need more than a gazillion post-it notes to keep this task management system organized. These tools will help you make and track your to-do list.

Google Keep

Price: FREE

Available for Android, iOS, Chrome and web version, Google Keep allows you to create a to-do list, add reminders, and much more. With Google Keep, you can insert photos, speak voice memos, add labels, create a checklist, and share with a team.

The best part… the notes you save can be easily searched, creating a database of all your thoughts and ideas.


Price: Free but some features require an upgrade

Although recently having problems, Wunderlist was recommended to me by several bloggers. Available for free on iOS devices, Mac, Android, Windows, Kindle Fire and the Web, Wunderlist allows you to create a to-do list, set reminders, set due dates, share with a team, and receive notifications. You can organize your tasks using folders and hashtags.

The best part… you can forward emails to your Wunderlist account.


Price: Free but some features require an upgrade

Todoist is available for iOS devices, Mac, Android, Windows, every major web browser, and email. Build a to-do list with multiple levels using sub-tasks and sub-projects and share your lists with others.

The best part… Todoist has the capability of setting recurring tasks and for creating a color-coded priorities system.


Price: Free but some features require an upgrade

Especially useful for teams, Asana has a very simple system for tracking what needs to be done “today” versus what is coming soon.

The best part… Asana integrates with multiple apps including Dropbox, Google Drive, Slack, MailChimp, and Google Calendar.


Price: Free although security and administrative features require an upgrade

Trello is unique from the other task management systems as items are organized in “boards” and “lists.”

Since Trello is my preference, I must admit that it can be overwhelming when you are new to the platform. However, once you adapt to the organizational style, Trello will quickly become your favorite place for planning, goal setting, and managing your tasks.

The best part… You can drag and drop your tasks from list to list as well as click to move them to another board.

Using Trello to Manage Your Goals & To-Do List
Subscribe and receive a sneak peek behind the scenes of my personal Trello account. View a tutorial video where I walk you through how I use Trello to track my goals and create a manageable to-do list.


More help for overcoming the overwhelm

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Starting a Mastermind Group

Mastermind groups provide the forum bloggers need for bouncing ideas off others who understand blogging language and have similar goals. But starting a mastermind group that works for everyone involved can be difficult.

Starting a mastermind group is not as hard as it seems. Use these guidelines, rules, and agenda ideas. Free printable planner!

It is a foolish blogger who thinks she can attain success without the help of others.

Sounds like an ancient proverb or something, but it was actually ME. I tried to create my own blogging success without the help of others for a couple of years and struggled with huge frustrations, bordered on burning out, and wandered aimlessly.

I was doing all the “things” but could not get traction.

Then, I opened my business up to seasoned bloggers, allowing these ladies to peek behind the scenes. As I shared my difficult emotions with my mastermind group, they opened up the wisdom vaults (their brains coupled with vast experience) and poured ideas, encouragement, and butt-kicking truths over me.

Over the last few years, my blogging business has grown tremendously in ways I never thought possible because of my blog mentors and the ladies in my mastermind group. Now, because of the time they have invested in me, I want to invest in others.

Blog Mentorship  blog mastermind jumpstart

^^Click the one you need.^^

Characteristics of great mastermind groups

When I was first approached about being in a mastermind group, I was anxious because I was not sure I wanted to open myself and my business to people I barely knew. Plus, I had watched these ladies work their businesses from a distance and perceived them to be much more successful than I was. Don’t laugh but honestly… I could not fathom why I was invited to participate.

Because I was more curious about why they picked me and truly needed a group of bloggers with whom I could ask questions, I accepted.

That was the best decision I have ever made in my blogging business.

But the success of our mastermind group did not happen by accident. It was strategically planned by the two bloggers who started the group to include characteristics that would encourage growth in all the members.

Similar goals

Each participant in our mastermind group chose to blog as a career, meaning we were each striving to make a profit from our blogs. Having a similar goal immediately defined the purpose of our mastermind group as well as the agenda: We work together to see income growth and share our income and expense reports once a month.

Does this mean every mastermind group should be focused on monetization? No. There are many possible objectives so do not immediately dismiss the idea if your most pressing goal is something different:

  • creating your first product
  • writing consistently
  • starting a new blog
  • increase page views
  • learn a new skill
  • etc.

Similar level of experience

In my mastermind group, our blog analytics are vastly different with a range of 20,000 page views a month to over 400,000 page views a month. However, we have each blogged for about the same amount of time.

Another similarity is our pursuit to continue our education. Each of us regularly attends conferences and purchases courses to keep learning. Although we have different personalities, we are all driven to grow and succeed and highly-motivated to help one another.

By having a similar level of experience, a mastermind group avoids relying on one person to be the expert guru, working together and not draining one person. After all, a successful mastermind group is a cooperation of all the members and not a mentorship where one person must guide the rest of the members.

Balanced with diversity

While the members of my mastermind community have similar goals and experiences, we each have different strengths and niches. This was not a planned effort but certainly became a tremendous benefit.

Should you intentionally try to find a mix of people with various expertise when starting a mastermind group? That is difficult for me to answer. I have definitely seen the asset of having various abilities in our group, but if striving for such a mix leaves you frustrated, I would skip it.

That is difficult for me to answer. I have definitely seen the asset of having various abilities in our group, but if striving for such a mix leaves you frustrated, I would skip it.


When we decided to launch our mastermind group, each of us understood that this was a commitment to share our time, energy, and knowledge.

Attendance was a MUST. And while our schedules sometimes conflict, we strive to meet twice a month except during the summer when the calendar is harder to coordinate because many of us have children.

Supportive but not counseling

As our friendship has grown, we have occasionally discussed something off-topic but these instances are very few. We are not together to provide counseling on relationships, parenting, home renovations, or anything else.

A mastermind group is not a place to provide counseling on relationships, parenting, home renovations, or anything else.

Our purpose is to support one another as we pursue blogging success. Therefore, our discussions are focused on topics related to blogging.


The majority of the ladies in my mastermind group can easily assume a leadership role but we allow one person to guide our meetings. This has kept our group amiable but on task.

By having one person as the group facilitator, you know who will start the meeting, who will prompt the group members when they stray outside of the group’s boundaries, etc.

Starting a mastermind group is not as hard as it seems. Use these guidelines, rules, and agenda ideas. Free printable planner!

Download a Mastermind Group Planner for FREE when you subscribe below…


How to start a mastermind group

When you understand the characteristics of a healthy community, it is time to start a mastermind group. As you begin generating an interest, you need to develop guidelines for how your group will be structured including: What is the maximum number of members allowed in your group? Personally, I recommend at least four and no more than ten. Too many and you lose the trust of the members. Too few and it is hard to meet when someone must be absent. How will you gather for your meetings? Google Hangouts is an excellent option. You can keep your meeting private and even record them for playback later. Plus, it is FREE. When or how often will you meet? Setting a time for meetings is often the hardest part. Once you find a timeframe that works for everyone, stick with it. Changing the schedule often leaves members frustrated and makes the group feel unsafe. Setting a time for meetings is often the hardest part. Once you find a timeframe that works for everyone, stick with it. Changing the schedule often leaves members frustrated and makes the group feel unsafe. Some mastermind groups met weekly while others choose to meet bi-weekly. Find the frequency that works best for your group. How long will the meetings be? Bloggers are busy balancing life and family and business… and hundreds of other things. Having a length for meetings and sticking with it helps everyone plan their day. The length of your mastermind meeting will vary greatly depending on the number of people in your group. Typically, a mastermind group of five people will need at least 90 minutes for the agenda. Will you have a private group available? By creating a secret Facebook group (or another community), mastermind members can stay in touch between meetings. The private group is also convenient for meeting reminders, creating accountability, sharing files, and other correspondence.

Mastermind group rules

When starting the mastermind group’s first meeting, set the rules. No one likes the uncomfortable feeling of creating group guidelines, but neither do people enjoy being stuck in an uncomfortable situation. By setting your mastermind group rules, every participant understands what is expected and the repercussions should the terms be violated. Nondisclosure Mastermind groups must be a safe place where confidential information can be shared without fear of someone mentioning these plans and problems outside of the group. Attendance requirement How many consecutive meetings can a member miss before being asked to leave the group? How many total meetings can be missed before the absences become a problem? Setting an attendance requirement might make you feel like an elementary school kid, but a mastermind group does not work well when members regularly miss the meetings. Length of commitment Life changes. Business changes. You cannot make a commitment without understanding that you may not be able to run a mastermind group forever. Having a set time for reviewing the success of the group gives everyone a trapdoor to escape if the group is not functioning well.

Mastermind group meetings format

When people hear me say that I participate in a mastermind group, they often ask what we do during our meetings. Our agenda is loosely based on one mentioned by Pat Flynn. Review wins for the week At the beginning of each meeting, we each share our “wins” for the week. A “win” is something we accomplished and are proud of. Sharing with one another gives us a chance to celebrate even small successes. Typically, our “wins” relate to the goals we set during the previous meeting but may also include something new we learned. Each person shares for about five minutes. Hot seat For our meetings, one or two of the participants will be placed in the “hot seat.” In the hot seat, a member shares the biggest struggle she is facing and asks for feedback on the issue. Those with expertise on the topic tend to take on a primary role in the conversation but everyone shares their opinions and ideas. After our conversation, the person in the “hot seat” is likely to have a list of action items to try. Learning together When there is a topic we are all interested in mastering, we spend some time in our meeting questioning the member perceived as the expert or seek out resources to share.

Learning together heightens the level of accountability.

This would actually be a great way to review notes from a book you read as a group or an e-course you all decide to take. Learning together heightens the level of accountability. Setting goals As the meeting comes to a close, each participant sets an action-oriented goal to accomplish prior to the next meeting. And that’s it! While this mastermind agenda might sound too simple, the routine works well. Over-structuring the meeting would not allow time for us to focus on anyone who needed more time and might stifle the conversation with a feeling of being rushed. Having a basic agenda is very helpful but leave room for relationships and the current needs of the group.

More ideas for your mastermind group

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How to Make YouTube Videos

Wondering how to make YouTube videos? Creating videos is easier than you think!

I've been wondering how to make YouTube videos. All you need is a smartphone, a microphone, and movie editing software. This tutorial makes me think I really can do this!

My husband and I sat together for a Periscope broadcast in an attempt to demystify how to make videos for YouTube and your blog. All you need is your smartphone, a microphone, and movie editing software (that is probably already on your computer).

When you know how to make YouTube videos, you open up tremendous possibilities, like offering video reviews to sponsors, producing screencasts and tutorials, and creating products (like e-courses) to sell.

Video Notes:

  • The equipment we use for video 1:51
  • Tip for positioning your microphone 6:51
  • How to use iMovie 8:46
  • Why use video in blog posts 16:20

Mentioned Resources:

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How to Backup your WordPress Blog to DropBox

We all hear about backing up our WordPress blogs and website, but some of us trouble wrapping our heads around this idea. For the longest time I never backed up my site, and I was always worried that something would happen. But with this plugin, I’m able to have peace of mind that my site is always backed up!

Backup a blog quickly and easily with Dropbox. Protect your hard work.

The plugin I’m using is called WordPress Backup to Dropbox.

To install, go to Plugins-Add New:

Step 1

Type in WordPress Backup to Dropbox:

Step 2


Click “Enter” and you’ll see the plugin:

Step 2.1

Alternately, you can download the plugin directly here. Once again, you will go to Plugins – Add New. But this time you will go to the top of the page and click “Upload Plugin”.

Step 2.2.1

Click Choose File, select the zip folder of WordPRess Backup to Dropbox from your download folder (or desktop – wherever you downloaded it to). Click Install now.

Step 2.2


Whichever road you take to get the plugin on your site, both will bring you to this page where you will click “Activate Plugin”:

Step 3

Once it’s activate you will be able to find it in your Plugins: 

Step 3.1


On the sidebar you will be able to find it too, just look for the blue arrow icon and WPB2D (WordPres Backup to Dropbox):

Step 3.2

Next, you have to connect the app to your Dropbox account. This is the page you will see the first time you go to the plugin (via the left sidebar):

Step 4

Once you click the green “Authorize” button you will be directed to Dropbox and see this:Step 4.1

Click “Allow” and you will see this screen once it’s connected successfully: Step 4.2Within your Dropbox a new folder will be created for your WP Backups. In mine, two folders were created. The first is titled “Apps” and within that folder I can find the WP2D subfolder.

Step 4.3


It’s within this WPB2D folder in which all my backups are stored:

Step 4.4Now, return to your WordPress Backup to Dropbox plugin via the sidebar:

Step 3.2

You can see here that I am now able to unlink the account if I choose to do so. I can also see my storage usage/availability right from the plugin:

2 Step 4.5


Now, we are going to configure and set up the plugin to auto-backup based on our preference. I choose do backup daily, so I’m choosing “Daily” from the drop-down:

Step 5


Go ahead and choose the time too, as you can see I choose to backup at 11pm.

Step 5.5

On to the bottom part. This is a section you MUST read well. You are going to check the files and directories you want to EXCLUDE from the backup. So anything you check will NOT be in the backup file(s).

Step 5.2

Click the “Save Changes” green button and you’re good to go!

Step 5.4

This is incredibly an incredibly easy and secure way to backup your WordPress Blog or Website!

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below!

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5 Ways You Can Use Freelancers to Save Time and Stay on Budget

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Fiverr in partnership with Kasai Media. All opinions are 100% mine.


One of the most important lessons I have learned as an entrepreneur is that even though I might be capable of doing everything, I shouldn’t try. Sometimes, you need to outsource and that is where Fiverr becomes a smart option for small businesses on a tight budget.

One of the most important lessons I have learned as an entrepreneur is that even though I might be capable of doing everything, I shouldn't try. Sometimes, you need to outsource and that is where Fiverr becomes a smart option for small businesses on a tight budget. #FiverrFreelance #Ad

Many bloggers and authors tend to have a DIY approach to everything and I am no exception. There is no way I can calculate the number of hours I have spent with Google and YouTube, trying to master something that would take another person minutes to accomplish.

Then, I had this lightbulb moment…

When someone hires me to write a blog post or to monitor their social media, I charge them ($150) per hour. And yet, here I sit wasting hours (equal to at least $300) trying to master a skill that I might only need once a year when I could hire this out (paying only $5 for the entire task).

Many bloggers are using Fiverr

Inside the Inspired Bloggers Network Facebook Community, I have seen people talking about Fiverr often. If you are unaware of this brilliant way to save time and money, allow me to give you a quick synopsis:

  • You need something created.
  • Visit Fiverr and search for a freelancer who can accomplish that “gig.”
  • Agree on the terms and payment.
  • Get what you need accomplished for a nominal fee (prices start at $5) while you get more pressing tasks finished.

If you need something additional added to your task, most freelancers allow you to add additional gigs at equally low prices.

fiverr freelance

So, what are some of the options available at Fiverr? What are other bloggers and small business owners outsourcing?

1. Logo Design

I found someone that I liked the designs they had pictured, filled out a questionnaire to tell them what I was looking for and gave the a few ideas for fonts/design. The design was done in about 4-5 business days and I loved it. Simple and exactly what I was looking for.

Jennifer, Boots, Lace & Liftin’ Weights

2. Kindle Formatting

I have used Fiverr for numerous things over the years. I usually go to the site for small one-off tasks that require software I don’t have and don’t want to purchase like Open Site Explorer or, in years past, Kindle formatting software.

Angie, The Work at Home Wife

3. Avatar Creation

I was having an avatar made of myself. I was promptly contacted by the artist making my avatar after I paid. I provided a photo of myself and gave some guidelines about what I was looking for an pointed out some distinguishing features about myself. If I remember correctly, the completed avatar was emailed to me two days later for my approval. I wrote back and suggested two quick adjustments (I wanted some distinguishing moles added) and they provided the completed avatar the next day. I was really pleased with the process and the work that was done for me and I have recommended Fiverr to many people since then.

Brianna, Mending the Piggy Bank

4. Website Developing

I was looking for a web developer. I had great luck with finding THE perfect person to work with! He responded quickly, understood my issues right away and offered me a great deal. The turnaround time was phenomenally quick. Everything he did on my website was done without any errors, and he even said that if for some reason a plugin or something would stop working after he had installed one, then he would fix it right away free of cost.

Denise, DIY Crush Blog

5. Ebook Covers (and more)

I needed an ebook cover and for just five dollars (in fact, for free, because I got one free gig), I got an amazingly designed piece that I will definitely use. I think Fiverr is a great place for bloggers, small business owners or anyone else in fact. For just five dollars you can get anything – header for your page, your cartoon photo, a logo, blog post, or even a video of a British man singing you Happy Birthday.

Marina, Parental Journey

Using Fiverr is not expensive but it is smart. You can outsource copywriting, video editing, mobile apps, music promotion, animation, keyword research, vector tracing, business cards, and so much more that it blows the mind.

Stop wasting the time you could be using to make money by utilizing freelancers.


Connect with Fiverr

Browse Gigs | Read the Blog | Like on Facebook | Follow on Twitter | Connect on Linkedin

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How My Frugal Mindset Almost Killed My Business

One morning as I loaded my dishwasher, I was assaulted. Not for realz but in my head. Ramit Sethi read my mind, pulled out a major problem I was hiding, and then proceeded to beat me to a pulp.

Choosing to live frugally did wonderful things for my budget and saved my family from bankruptcy... but it almost killed my business. Are you making these same mistakes?I was catching up on some podcasts and decided to listen to the one that I had been avoiding.

Amy Porterfield interviewed Ramit Sethi about changing your mindset to gear yourself for success.

[Get this podcast.]

Even though a part of me KNEW I needed to listen, I didn’t want to because I had a feeling it was going to challenge me in uncomfortable ways.

I was right.

A little background

My husband and I made really bad financial decisions before we met and continued making huge mistakes after we married. Soon, we had six figures in debt and faced bankruptcy.

Recovering from this spend-thrift lifestyle required a tremendous change in how we thought, and the change did not happen overnight. For a decade, I woke each morning trying to make better financial choices and sought a very frugal mindset. I would tell myself the same things over and over again:

  • Less is more.
  • Do it yourself.
  • Save a penny.

The self-talk constantly reminded me of my failures, and I was determined to never return to the days when we could not afford groceries. I reprogrammed myself.

During this same time, I was learning to blog and shifting from blogging as a hobby to blogging for a profit, and without me realizing, that frugal mindset was carrying over into my business.

Paying for my own domain name (which can be purchased for only $0.99 through GoDaddy) seemed like a HUGE expense. Paying a monthly bill for self-hosting felt frivolous. Even so, I made these small investments and saw a great return on my investments.

But that is where the investment stopped.

Changing my mind

My blogging business was growing but it was slow. The income was a trickle compared to what I was hearing other bloggers made. I was just about ready to give up.

On a whim, I asked my husband about attending a conference for bloggers. Attending this conference would mean eating beans and rice for a month because the money was not in our budget, but he was extremely supportive. So, we risked it.

Literally, that one conference and the lessons I learned changed not only my blogging business but our lives.

From that point forward, I struggled with my frugal self-talk: Should I pay for a plugin? Can I afford this e-course? Can’t I just find a tutorial and do it myself?

The time it was taking me to learn and make changes was eating the majority of my work hours. Blogging was infringing on my family time and my home was a wreck. Life was way out of balance. Again, I was ready to give up.

My frugal mind-set was still at work. My children were well-fed but my business was starving and I was completely burned out.

Putting money into my business

Remembering the impact my first conference had on our lives, I decided to try putting more money back into my business in three specific ways.

1) Investing in my website

Free plugins and themes were only taking me so far but I wanted more for my websites. I wanted the look of a truly professional website and I wanted the control to create an online destination that would generate more income.

This required buying a premium themes from Studiopress for my websites, add-on features for Woocommerce, plugins that would capture email addresses when I offer a freebie, and more.

2) Investing in a staff

Do you know what my greatest strength is? I can do anything. Seriously. Give me a tutorial on YouTube and I can blow your mind. But… should I do everything? No. I can save money this way but I am wasting my time and the bigger my blog grows, the more valuable my time becomes.

So, I hired out some duties that were demanding huge chunks of my time: creating printable packs for my subscribers, checking and sorting my email, moderating my Facebook groups, etc. Paying for these services took a huge bite out of our budget but I was willing to try.

3) Investing in myself

You want to know my greatest weakness? Self worth. I will spare you the details of how the voice got there but there is this nag in my head telling me that I am a failure and therefore, I often quit before I try. How could I silence that bully in my brain? I had to invest in myself. I had to push myself outside my comfort zone.

Join the Inspired Bloggers University before April 15th and save 15%. How? This introvert went shopping in a department store (not online but a REAL store with dressing rooms) for a professional wardrobe and started attending blog conferences regularly. I took some paid courses online and subscribed to a magazine for bloggers. I bought books that would strengthen me in the areas where I was weak.


After learning to think frugally in my personal finances and strategically in my business finances, did I see a return on my investment? Absolutely.

In one year, my income quadrupled. I had more expenses but my net value still increased more than three-fold.

I gained a confidence in who I was. I even bought makeup and pitched myself to the local media, becoming a monthly contributor to a live lifestyle program.

What this means to you

Now that you know the ends and outs of my brain, how does this apply to you?

Are you living a frugal lifestyle? Great! But is that mindset choking your business? Do you answer each problem with “I can do it myself”? Do you stop short from buying the tools and courses you need because you are cheap?

Stop limiting yourself by not investing in your business.

Wait… I hear that voice in your head. I know it is refuting everything I have said. The voice is telling you that you cannot afford these investments.

Do this… send an email to your favorite BIG blogger and ask him or her one question:

If I want to be a successful blogger, is it necessary for me to invest financially in my business?

Now tell that voice in your head that you canNOT afford to NOT make these investments.

The harsh truth is that it takes money to make money. If your vision is to blog for profit, realize that with income comes expense. There is a reason why every business runs a monthly profit and loss statement. You cannot have one without the other.

So, sit down and silence your frugal mindset with a business budget and start investing in your business.

Your thoughts? Leave a comment.

  • Have you struggled with a frugal mindset killing your business? How did you overcome this battle?
  • What have you learned about investing in your blogging business? Have you seen a return on your investment?
  • What was the best investment you made into your blog? What was the worst?
Posted on 2 Comments

How to Streamline + Save Time On Social Media

Being active on social media is such an important part of blogging success – but it can lead to a lot of wasted time if you don’t have a solid plan. Fortunately, there are a lot of tools we can use to save time on social media – while keeping our platforms truly engaging.

Here are some of my favorite tips and tools for streamlining social media – gathered over 7 years of managing social media for my own blog and others’!

Save time on social media with these tips and tools!

Set Your Social Priorities

If you’re managing your blog and social media on your own, it’s probably best not to try to be everywhere. Don’t be fooled into thinking that you absolutely must be on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, and even all the new social media networks that pop up. You’ll be much more effective if you put the same amount of energy into focusing on your ideal readers’ favorite networks rather than spreading yourself too thin across all of them.

To decide, just think about the content you see doing best on each platform – and the platform you enjoy most!

Schedule Updates

You can use apps like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule social media messages on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+. A lot of bloggers love CoSchedule for scheduling shares and future reshares of their content, too!

Since each app has a free option or at least a trial period, I recommend using each of them for a couple days to see which one you like best, since everyone works differently. I personally love Buffer, but I’m warming up to CoSchedule and I know others who swear by Hootsuite, even though I find it really clunky.

Viraltag is an app you can use to schedule pins (and repins!) on Pinterest, and to upload many pins at once more efficiently. I especially love using it to schedule pins right when my posts go live. Then I come back and schedule repins to group boards.

While you can’t exactly schedule Instagram updates, you can set up Instagram reminders with Crowdfire (The smartphone app formerly known as JustUnfollow!). I am loving this tool, because it automatically chooses the best time to remind you to post on Instagram based on when your followers are most active. It also suggests hashtags to use with your update, too, though that feature could use some improvement.

I like to schedule updates weekly – usually on Sunday or Monday – so then it’s done and I can focus on engagement during the rest of the week. Some people like to spend a few minutes each day scheduling updates, though, which is definitely ideal if you have more timely content to share. You’ll know which option is better for you and your readership.

Share Content

Sharing your own content on social media is a no-brainer, but it’s really important to share relevant content from others, too! You can cut down on the amount of time spent searching for good content to share by setting up a steady incoming stream to choose from.

  • Use Buffer feeds. One of the reasons I love Buffer for scheduling is that you can add feeds to easily share updates from. I have 15 blog feeds set in Buffer that I love and that all create similar content to mine, so there is always great stuff to share that I know my readers will love.
  • You can easily use the same tactic by using any RSS feeder to subscribe to blogs in your niche and grab content to share from one place.
  • The Pocket app works across your smartphone and browser – it’s sort of a streamlined bookmarking service. I use this to save content I find throughout the week that I know I’ll want to share. During my weekly scheduling sessions, I have them all in one place and can easily share and delete them from the pool as I go. I also use Pocket to save content I need to share from the support threads I participate in with other bloggers.

Don’t Forget to Engage

Although all these tips will help you save time on your social media marketing, we can’t forget: It’s social media! It can’t be completely automated. We have to remember that behind the metrics, the numbers, the “likes” and “followers” are REAL readers – people who deserve a real relationship, not a robotic one!

So, set aside time for responding to comments, interacting with others each day – you know, being “social!” Ideally this would be during the time when your network is most active.

Do you feel like your social media routine is efficient? Which of these tips or tools will you start using?

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How to Choose a Professional Graphic Designer

Please welcome guest blogger, Melinda Martin, whom some of you know as Musings of a Minister’s Wife. Some of you know her as The Helpy Helper. Some of you don’t know her, but we should work on that.


In our fantastic Inspired Bloggers Network Facebook group, I often see posts concerning graphic design.  I am going to give you some pointers for how to choose a professional graphic designer.




As a self-taught graphic designer, I look back at how much I’ve grown in the last three years and stand amazed.  When I started out, all I had was my natural artistic talent, my ability to self-teach, and my desire to learn.  I think I have made every mistake that a self-taught graphic designer can make.  However, there were times during my growing that I thought I was doing it right, only to find out that I had it all wrong. We have all had those face-palm moments.  “It ain’t a mistake if you learn from it,” is the motto of many self-teachers.  And it’s how we learn the best.  Hands on, full on, and all in, which is also how are mistakes are.  (Go big or go home, lol.)

The Right Tool for the Job

Yes, there was a time when I used Microsoft Word to create a printable.  Then I graduated to Adobe Photoshop, thinking that was the right tool.  Finally, I found Adobe InDesign.  Your graphic designer should have an understanding of when to use Word, when to use Photoshop, when to use Illustrator, and when to use InDesign, which is specifically for desktop publishing.  If I were hiring an assistant (or another designer to do work for my own projects), I would not hire someone who does not work in the Adobe suite.  Picmonkey and Canva are not software options for professional graphic designers.  If your work ever needs to go to a publisher, they are going to expect to see it using industry standard design software.  If it’s not up to spec, then they will need to recreate the file, which will end up raising your costs.

I do invest $50 a month into using the Adobe Creative Cloud suite.  This ensures that I have access to all of the industry standard design software and that they are up to date, allowing me to easily transfer my design files to another professional designer if needed.

Portfolio Diversity

I often check up on other designers’ portfolios.  One thing that is a turn off for me is if every project in their portfolio looks the same.  A graphic designer should be an artist first.  An artist is able to tap into the feel of the project.  It’s for this reason that I don’t submit for work to sites that have the artists compete, especially for book cover design projects.  Sites like that usually don’t allow you to really get to know the client’s personality and vision.  When I do cover designs, I at least do a quick reading of the client’s book, browse their site, and have some direct conversation with the client about any preconceived ideas and figure out what they definitely like/don’t like.  I use Behance to showcase my own portfolio and love it.

Stock Photography

A professional graphic designer will have their own stock photography account and will download the images required for your project through their account.  All images used for your project should be legally obtained, have commercial-use rights, and should be used exclusively for your project.

Business is Business

I don’t take every project that comes my way.  I also don’t keep every project that I initially accept.  If the client does not value my opinion and my design experience, then that’s not a client that I want to work with.  It’s okay to part ways.  If you are not feeling a connection with your graphic designer, then be up front about it.  She may know of other designers who may be able to capture your vision or who may work better with your personality type.  It doesn’t have to be personal.

Project Wrap-Up

If the client works with Dropbox (my personal preference—free and easy) or Google Drive, then I will share a folder with that client and move all of her files over for her to have access to.  This includes the original design file (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator), any stock photo that I downloaded for use with their project, as well as various exports of her final image.  Since I work with bloggers, I know how they need to incorporate whole or partial elements of their design into other projects.  Make sure that your designer delivers you a high-resolution image of your final product on a transparent background.  This is essential and is required for any print project.

I also try to put together a cheat sheet (or email) that contains the names of the fonts and color codes that I used.

A Note About Fonts

While free commercial-fonts are great, they are very overused, which is the downfall of using free.  (Also, just because a font says it is free, doesn’t mean it is free for commercial use.) I invest into my business by purchasing commercial-use fonts.  Included in these fonts are characters that are only accessible through Adobe Illustrator, Adobe InDesign, or other similar software (not Photoshop).  I can’t share the font file with my client, and if the client purchases the same font, she may not be able to get it to do all the tricks if she doesn’t use the higher end software.

Always Learning

I’m sure there are still a few things that I am doing the hard way, maybe even the wrong way.  But I continue to invest my time and my money into my education and my business.  I can be both teacher and student.

Are you a graphic designer?  Please leave a comment below with a link to your portfolio.  I believe in networking and supporting each other.

Do you have any additional advice on how to choose a professional graphic designer?