Category Archives for "Case Study"

Dec 15

Best of the Best for 2015: Social Media Articles, Case Studies, Infographics, Videos & More

By Maria Peagler


This is a post you're gonna want to bookmark.

As 2015 comes to a close, we wanted to gift-wrap our best advice in a tidy package — our most popular articles, case studies, infographics, and interviews from this year — making them easy for you to find and use.

2015 was a year bringing great change to online marketing, including:

  • Facebook rolled out photo carousel posts, a unified experience across all devices, and the safety-check feature
  • Twitter increased their 140-character limit and added emoticons
  • Instagram now offers advertising
  • Pinterest rolled out buyable pins to those using major shopping carts
  • LinkedIn bought and, becoming a more comprehensive business-to-business platform

It can be tough to keep up with all the changes, and even more challenging to identify which of all those new features are truly relevant to your business.

What Will You Get in This Guide?

The Best of the Best of 2015: ​Social Media Articles, Case Studies, Infographics and Interviews is a comprehensive look at the state of social media for small business owners, crowdsourced by your peers.

This guide offers the most popular content we published on our blog in 2015, and gives you a choice of how to consume it:

  • Want a deep dive into a topic? Check out the ultimate guides.
  • Just want a quick overview? Download the infographics.
  • Learn better by watching?​ Review our best videos of 2015.
  • ​Like to listen to your favorite podcast while you work out? Listen to our most popular interview.
  • No matter what business you're in or how you like to learn, you'll find something here for you.

Our Best Social Media Articles of 2015

These 10 articles on social media marketing cover overall strategy to individual networks.  Mastering social media is a continual process, one that never stops. So even if you "knew it all" last year, what works for your brand this year is completely different.

After 25 years of computer training, and over five here at, I've found there's a common thread running through the journey to grow, improve, and innovate: the feeling of being overwhelmed with the constant change in digital marketing.

These articles are address that challenge, and are the most popular here at for 2015, as identified by organic searchers from Google:​

Who Sees My Stuff on Facebook? Business Page vs. Personal Profile
Do you want over a billion people seeing your family vacation photos? Didn't think so. Do you want over a[...]
Social Media Strategy Template: Develop Your Social Media Strategy in 60 Seconds [Version 2.0]
[UPDATED FOR 2016] — download your free social media strategy template and worksheet, and learn how to develop your unique[...]
7 Surprising Secrets I’ve Learned from Beauty Vloggers
7 Surprising Secrets I've Learned from Beauty Vloggers. Beauty vloggers are not professional marketers, but they are CRUSHING traditional branding[...]
Ekaterina Walter Interview – Author of Visual Storytelling
I just finished reading The Power of Visual Storytelling:  How to Use Visuals, Video, and Social Media to Market Your[...]
What You Need to Know BEFORE You Do Social Media Marketing in Europe
  What You Need to Know BEFORE You Do Social Media Marketing in Europe A primer for U.S. brands on[...]
Instagram for Small Business: Three Master Marketers
Editor’s Note:  Amanda Jensen is a summer intern at  She’s a student at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism[...]

Want to grow your business in 30 days using social media marketing? Click here to get your free infographic & week-by-week guide to learn how.

Our Best Social Media Infographics of 2015

​Infographics are the most popular content we develop here at they serve as your one-page guide to success in figuring out hashtags, Facebook, LinkedIn, and more.

These infographics are the most popular here at for 2015, as identified by organic searchers from Google:​

The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags [INFOGRAPHIC]
<< Click on the infographic to download your own full-size version. Hashtags are ONE constant in an ever-changing social media[...]
Facebook Marketing Infographic 2015 Edition
I've updated our Facebook Marketing Infographic for 2015 to reflect the newest tactics that work in a crowded Facebook environment harder[...]
The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Local Business [INFOGRAPHIC]
ALL NEW FOR 2015! << Click on the infographic to download your own full-size version. How do you decide where[...]
LinkedIn Networking Infographic
Notice how much LinkedIn has changed this year?  It's practically an entirely new social network. How can you make sure[...]

Want to grow your business in 30 days using social media marketing? Click here to get your free infographic & week-by-week guide to learn how.

Our Best Interviews of 2015

​I'm a huge reader, and I enjoy interviewing the great minds whose books I've read, whose workshops I've attended at conferences, and bringing you the little-known voice you might not have heard of previously.

These interviews cover a broad range of topics most relevant to overwhelmed business owners: how to be uber-productive, what it takes to run a successful crowdfunding campaign, the rise of visual content, and even getting over 70% of your business from Twitter:

How Six-Figure Working Moms Make Time for Work, Play, and Family
How often do you hear "you can't have it all?" That's a myth, according to Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How[...]
How to Get Over 70% of Your Business from Twitter: Interview with Patty Farmer
Think twitter is just for celebrities? This interview is about to bust that myth wide open . . . Patty[...]
How to Run a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign – Interview with Ebony Love, LoveBug Studios
Have you considered crowdfunding your next project? If so, you definitely want to listen to today's interview with Ebony Love,[...]
Ekaterina Walter Interview – Author of Visual Storytelling
I just finished reading The Power of Visual Storytelling:  How to Use Visuals, Video, and Social Media to Market Your[...]
Interview with 168 Hours Author Laura Vanderkam: Get the Book Free!
"I don't have time!" Do you say this often?  I hear it repeatedly from my clients: "I don't have time[...]

Want to grow your business in 30 days using social media marketing? Click here to get your free infographic & week-by-week guide to learn how.

Our Best Social Media Case Studies of 2015

​Case studies are the powerhouse of content: they prove that success is possible using online marketing, and teach you exactly how to get results.

Because we focus on small business owners here at, you won't find the usual Starbucks, Domino's, or REI case studies. Instead, you'll see those small brands that are the backbone of the U.S. economy: photographers, consultants, retailers, artists, yoga teachers, heating & air brands, jewelers, gyms, and more.​

These case studies are the most popular here at for 2015, as identified by organic searchers from Google:​

30-Day Action Plan to Grow Your Business with Social Media Marketing

Need more customers? Increased visibility? Additional sales? Learn how to grow your business in 30 days using social media marketing

social media case studies small business
Dec 01

15 All New Social Media Case Studies for Small Business

By Maria Peagler

social media case studies small business

Who doesn't love a good case study?

There's no better way to learn than from someone who's been successful achieving what you need to do.

In 2013, we published a comprehensive list of 13 social media marketing case studies exclusively for small business (all featured SMOC members).

As we close out 2015, I wanted to share even more, all-new case studies: 15 for 2015.​

Each of the case studies below features tactics that work exclusively for small business. Each is unique: some offer infographics, other video, others checklists. But all of them offer lessons you can immediately take away and use today:

30-Day Action Plan to Grow Your Business with Social Media Marketing

Need more customers? Increased visibility? Additional sales? Learn how to grow your business in 30 days using social media marketing

Here are the same case studies, in list format:

  1. [PDF DOWNLOAD] The ultimate guide to social media tagging
  2. Social media sales secrets - vlog & transcript
  3. How a New York-city based solopreneur pivoted for greater revenue
  4. How three small businesses are beating their big-box competitors
  5. The ultimate guide to hashtags [INFOGRAPHIC]
  6. How to raise 200% of your crowdfunding goal in 7 days
  7. How to use social media marketing as your ONLY means of promotion
  8. 7 surprising secrets I've learned from beauty vloggers
  9. How a local candy store capitalized on television coverage using social media marketing
  10. How a local meat market uses Facebook for marketing
  11. Instagram for small business: three case studies of master marketers
  12. How a local hair salon uses social media marketing to fill their chairs every day
  13. How to turn one piece of content into 30 days worth of marketing
  14. Easy Facebook ads on a budget [WEBINAR EXCERPT]
  15. How a solopreneur generated 1,200% ROI on a $50 Facebook ad
Nov 03

31 Social Media Marketing Resources from 3rd Quarter of 2015

By Janice Deleon

3rd quarter smoc

Every week here at we give you a list of our most recent resources with our Weekly Top 5: your lessons, infographics, webinars, and articles. We’ve gathered all those resources from 3rd quarter of the year into one GINORMOUS list for you, making it uber-easy to find what you need to grow your business using social media marketing.


Social Media Strategy

  1. Grow Your Business in 30 Days Using Social Media Marketing
  2. How to Use Social Media Tagging – the Ultimate Guide & INFOGRAPHIC
  3. Two-Minute Video: Create Your Own Stock Photo Library Using Canva
  4. How to Run Your Business on a Chromebook for Less Than $300
  5. Tips for Entrepreneurs from a Top UpWork VA
  6. [QUIZ] What’s the Best Social Network for Your Business?
  7. Are You Wasting Money on Marketing?
  8. CHEAT SHEET: 4 Social Media Engagement Hacks [CLASSIC]
  9. Most Popular Articles from the First Half of 2015
  10. Marketing Challenging Brands — Vlog and Transcript
  11. Six-Figure Working Moms Keep One-Week Time Diary: What They Do Differently
  12. [VIDEO] Secrets to Getting Sales for Small Business Using Social Media


  1. [INFOGRAPHIC} A Baker’s Dozen Tactics to Monetize Your Facebook Fans *
  2. Who Sees My Stuff on Facebook? Business Page vs Personal Profile [INFOGRAPHIC]
  3. How to Get Leads from Your Facebook Business Page *
  4. Updated Facebook 102: Customizing Your Facebook Page *


  1. How to Reach Your Goals EVERY Time [WEBINAR EXCERPT]
  2. [WEBINAR EXCERPT] Broadcasting with Periscope & Blab for Small Business
  3. Periscope & Blab for Your Small Business [WEBINAR REPLAY & RESOURCES] *
  4. BONUS Videos in Twitter Success System Webinar *
  5. [WEBINAR EXCERPT] How I Got to Google’s First Page in 90 Days


  1. [NEW] Instagram 101 Class Updated for New User Interface *
  2. What’s New in Instagram for 2015? *


  1. How to Get Your Video Content Retweeted on Twitter *
  2. Our Most Popular How-To Interviews: 70% of Your Business from Twitter, 200% of Crowdfunding Goal in 7 Days & More
  3. Twitter Image Sizes Cheat Sheet


  1. [VIDEO] How to Create a Hyperlinked Infographic Using Google Slides


  1. Watch Videos on YouTube


  1. Download Presentations from Slideshare
  2. How a New York City Based Small Business Pivoted for Greater Revenue [SLIDESHARE]


  1. Get More Enagement with Your Social Media Swipe File

* Indicates Members-Only Content

social media tagging infographic fi
Oct 13

[PDF DOWNLOAD] The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Tagging [UPDATED 2016]

By Maria Peagler

Click on the infographic to download your own full-size pdf version

<< Click on the infographic to download your own full-size pdf version.

[UPDATED 2016]

“Tag — you’re it!”

In a nutshell, that’s what a social media tag does: allows you to notify a friend or business you’ve mentioned them on that social network.

No, they’re not “it,” but they been talked about. And curiosity will prompt them to check out what you’ve said (good or bad).

Every major social network offers the ability to tag: who you can tag, how you do it, and the effect it has is what this guide is all about.

A tag is not a hashtag: a tag identifies a person or brand and notifies them they’ve been mentioned in a post.  A hashtag is a word or phrase describing the content or context of your post and helps people find it.

In the tweet shown below, I’m linking to an infographic on how to use a Google search to find anything online. I used the tag @Google to notify them I mentioned them in my tweet; I used the hashtag #search to increase the visibility of the tweet:

@Google "taps" them on the shoulder to say "you've been mentioned;" #search helps people find the tweet

@Google “taps” them on the shoulder to say “you’ve been mentioned;” #search helps people find the tweet

See the difference? A tag notifies one person/brand directly; a hashtag allows a wider group of people to find your content.




1. Tags is a @ symbol used before a name

A tag is the “at” symbol (@) preceding a person’s or brand’s name on a social network. For example, if you wanted to tag Apple’s CEO Tim Cook, you would use @Tim_Cook (Apple is conspicuously absent from Twitter, however). You’ll see over 17 screenshots of tags in this guide (scroll to see them).

2. Tags can be a person’s name

You can tag a person on every social network using the exact spelling of their name on that account. And their account name may be different on various social networks. I’m @mariapeagler on Instagram, but @sm_onlineclass on Twitter.  Most social networks will display the person’s account name and avatar as you type, so you can select the correct one.

3.  Tags can be a business’ name

All major social networks allow you to tag a business in your posts. However, many limit the ability of a brand to tag a person for privacy reasons (I give you all the details later in this comprehensive guide).

4.  Tells them of your mention

A tag tells the person/brand that you’ve mentioned them in a post and identifies you as the person who did it.

5.  They get a notification

When you’re tagged on social media, you get a message in your notifications area identifying who tagged you; click on it to see the post itself.

6.  Gives people a “heads up”

A tag is literally a “heads up — you’ve been mentioned” courtesy.  Social media can be a noisy, overwhelming place, and tags notify users of they’ve been named in a post in case they’ve missed it.

7.  Tags are public; notifications are private

Because tags are visible in a social media post itself, anyone who has permission to see it will be able to see your tag. However, the notification you receive from the social network is private.

8.  Works on personal & business accounts

Tagging works on both personal and business accounts for every major social network (Slideshare is an exception currently. However, since their purchase by LinkedIn, I expect tagging will be added as a feature soon).


Tips like these and significantly more are covered in



9. Use @ in Mentions & Replies

You can tag Twitter users when you mention them in a tweet. A specific type of mention is called a reply. The difference between the two? I clear it up in #10 and #11

10. Mentions is a tag in tweet body

A Twitter mention is when you tag someone in the body of a tweet. When you tag another Twitter user, they’ll get a message linking to your tweet in their Notifications tab.

social media tagging twitter mention

Mention example: I tagged author Ekaterina Walter in the body of this tweet; she got a msg linking to it in her Notifications tab


social media tagging evernote example

The Power of a Mention: I tagged Evernote in a tweet, which notified them. They saw it, retweeted it, and over 400K people learned of my brand in just one day.

Want to mention someone at the beginning of a tweet, but it’s not a reply? You can do that too: just type a period at the beginning of the tweet, like this Pantene did here:

sm tags twitter mention period

11. Replies begin a tweet

A Twitter reply is usually a response to someone else’s tweet. Use a tag at the beginning of a reply; by doing so, the only people who will see it in their timeline will be those who follow both you and the other user.

social media tagging twitter reply

Because I tagged @Ross_Behrens at the beginning of this tweet, only Ross and the people following both of us will see it

12.  Use tags in tweets or photos

You can tag someone in a tweet or by tagging them in a photo you upload to Twitter.  Here I uploaded an infographic to Twitter and tagged the business I featured in it by clicking on Who’s in this photo?:

social media tagging photo twitter


13.  Search Twitter using tags

You can search for a user’s tag natively on Twitter or by searching for their tag on Google.  Searching for @RisingStarRes on Google search returns Lynda Spiegel (see her tag in #12).

14.  Use “via @WSJ” to credit

An easy way to credit the source of content or a link in your tweet is to end it with “via @username.” So the tweet “On ‘Big Bang,’ hiding jokes are a science via @WSJ” tags the Wall Street Journal and also gives them credit. While they use their own shortened & branded URL, most brands don’t, and this is a simple way to source them.

15.  Use mentions as testimonials

An easy way to provide a public testimonial is to tweet it and tag the brand in it. Easy for you to do, and great publicity for the brand.  In the tweet below, @thedreamregister offered a testimonial about her membership with and tagged us in it:

social media tagging testimonial twitter


16. Tag up to 10 people in a photo

Tagging people in your photo? You can tag up to 10 of them on Twitter.

In, you get classes on every major social network, infographics, webinars, and 1:1 coaching with me. I hope to see you inside



17. Use @ in caption text

The area below the photo in Instagram is called the caption, and this is where you can tag a person or brand using the @ symbol.

18. Can use anywhere in caption

You can tag an Instagram user anywhere in the body of the caption; unlike Twitter, it doesn’t matter where it appears.  The effect is the same: the user gets notification they were tagged on a post.

19.  Can tag people in a photos

You can also tag other Instagram users in a photo by clicking on the image and adding their username, as shown below:

social media tagging instagram

Tap the screen to add a tag to a photo on Instagram


20. Use tags to link to other Instagram accts

Old Spice created a simulated game by tagging its other accounts in an image and setting up the scenario in the caption:

instagram tags old spce gaming

Instagram created a game-like post by setting up a simulated environment and tagged its image with its other accounts as the game’s next steps

21.  Tag users & add emojis

Add some extra life to your Instagram captions by tagging another user and adding emojis to reinforce your message.  Instagram users love their emojis, and it gets the conversation going.

22.  Use tags to showcase products

If your brand offers multiple products and each has its own Instagram account, tag them in your images.  Those tags will act as a hyperlink to take users to the product accounts.

23.  Host a Follow & Tag contest

Want a simple contest for Instagram? Require users to 1) follow your account, and 2) tag a friend on your post. That both gains new followers for you and generates more visibility.

24.  Tag wisely using post etiquette

Instagram tends to have a lot of spam tagging and hashtags, so set yourself apart by being different: only tag those people, brands, or influencers who are relevant to your account.  Don’t tag Oprah in hopes she’ll see you and promote your next book.




25. Can tag people from profile

Facebook allows you the most freedom in tagging on your personal profile: from here, you can tag both people and brands.

26. Can tag only business from biz page

From your business page, you can tag only other businesses, for privacy reasons.  Remember that your Facebook posts are public, and your fans may not want their clickable tag appearing in your post.

In this Facebook post, I tagged the authors of a post I shared. I was able to tag Orbit Media Studios’ business page, they saw the post and responded to it, as did my fans.  Notice this post didn’t get a huge reach — only 21 people. It didn’t need to, because it reached the right people through social media tagging:

social tagging facebook engaging post

27.  Can tag people in photos

From your personal profile, you can tag both people and brands in a photo.  You cannot do either from your business page. However, the UEFA Champions League cleverly gets around that restriction by telling its fans to tag themselves in this photo:

tag yourself sm tag facebook

While you can’t tag a person from your business page, you can suggest your fans do it themselves

28.  Can tag in comments

Tagging is also available in post comments.  While you cannot tag a person from your business page, people can tag their own friends in a comment on your page or even your ad.  It’s an easy way for them to share content.

Men’s Health magazine suggests tagging a friend and liking their page. From the 55,000 Likes and almost 5,000 comments, I’d say it’s working:

sm tag facebook mens health


29.  Groups can tag their members

Facebook groups allow its members to tag each other in comments, so they get notifications of when they’ve been mentioned. In large groups, this allows members to stay engaged when there are far more posts than they’ll ever be able to read.

30.  Fans can tag friends in comment

An easy way to get more visibility for your posts is to encourage your fans to tag their friends in the comments on a post.  SHAPE magazine does this in their squat challenge:

sm tag facebook comments

31.  Ask fans to tag you biz in contest

Tag contests are popular on Facebook too.  Good Morning America had Garth Brooks surprise a Mom at her front door on Mother’s Day, and an easy way to promote the story was by suggesting fans “tag a mom you love in the comments.” While that didn’t enter them in the contest, it did increase the viewership of and buzz around the story:

sm tag gma facebook

GMA gets greater visibility for their Mother’s Day contest by encourage fans to “tag a Mom you love”

32.  Notifies you when tagged

No matter who does the tagging, you get notified in your Facebook menu when you’ve been tagged. It’s a smart way of cutting through the noise on Facebook to say “you’ve been mentioned!”


linkedin33. Tag using the @ symbol

Tag people and brands on LinkedIn using the @ symbol, as you do on other social network.

34. Tag in status updates or comments

You can tag LinkedIn users either in a status update or in comments on your own or others’ status updates.

35.  Tag a person in your network

LinkedIn limits you to tagging only those people you’re already connected with in your network.

36.  Tag a business

You can tag any business having a page on LinkedIn — no restrictions.

37. Tagged name gets notification

The LinkedIn account you tagged gets a notification in the upper right of their Main Menu.

38.  Tagged name links to profile

When you add a tag to your LinkedIn status update, that tag becomes a clickable hyperlink.

39.  Reply to people who tag you

It’s good etiquette to reply to people who tag you on LinkedIn.  They’re providing engagement, and you want to add your voice to the conversation and say “thanks!”

linkedin social media tags

This robust conversation on LinkedIn uses tags to directly address the participants

40.  Great way to start conversation

Tagging is an excellent way to start an intelligent conversation or ask for input on LinkedIn.

Google Plus

google plus41. Tag using the @ or + symbols

Google Plus allows you to tag other users with either the @ symbol or the + sign.

42. Can also tag using email

You can also tag someone on Google Plus using their email address. As you enter it, an autocomplete list will appear, and you can select their name from it.

43.  Can tag people & businesses

You can tag both people and brands on Google Plus. You can also tag people who are not in your Circles.

44.  Can tag in posts/comments

You can tag Google Plus users either in your posts or in comments (on your own post or in other’s posts).

45.  Tag people in Google Photos

Photos or images you upload to Google Plus are managed by their Google Photos application, which allows you to tag both people and businesses:

social media tagging google plus


46.  Feature called Tag People

While Google Photos calls this feature Tag People, you can also tag a business in a photo, as shown below:

google plus tag business photo

47. Tagged name gets notifications

You get notifications you’ve been tagged in an image in your Notifications icon at the top right. By clicking on it, you can see the images as well approve or reject any mentions you don’t want:

google plus notifications


48.  Choose where to receive notifications: desktop, mobile, email, sms, or push notifications

Google Plus has the largest number of notifications options of any social network: you automatically get notifications on desktop and mobile, but you can also have them delivered via email, sms on your smartphone, or by push notifications.



49. Tag using the @ symbol

Pinterest allows you to tag other users using the @ symbol: to tag me, you’d use @mariapeagler.

50. Tag in pin description

You can tag other users in the pin description, shown below the pin photo:

social media tagging pinterest

I was able to tag Marybeth because I follow her on Pinterest

51.  Tag in pin comments

You can also tag other Pinterest users in comments on a pin. While it’s unlikely to be as robust a conversation as you would have on Twitter or LinkedIn, those users will get a notification of your tag and see your mention.

52.  Can tag followers

Pinterest allows you to tag people who you follow. As I type @marybeth, Pinterest displays followers whose names match that and allows me to choose from them.

53.  Can also tag businesses

Want to tag a business on your Pinterest pin? No problem! You do need to follow them first: you can tag only those brands you follow.

54.  Notifies you when tagged

As with other social networks, Pinterest notifies you when you’ve been tagged either in a pin or a description.

55.  Great for contest entries

Run a contest on Pinterest and require entrants to tag your brand. You gain a new follower and get notified they’ve entered your contest.

56.  Cuts through visual clutter

Pinterest is overwhelming to some users because of all the visual stimulation (an artist friend says there’s just too much to look at!). So getting a notification helps to cut through the visual noise and gives a user a “heads up” when they’ve been mentioned.



57. Be innovative to grab attention

How can you be creative in using tags on social media? Can you create a “game” like Old Spice? What if you tag people or brands you mention in a blog post? Start small and have fun!

58. Tell a story using tags

Use tags to tell your brand’s story: tag your clients when you include them in a case study. Tag your vendors to recommend them. Tag influencers to say how they’ve inspired you.

59.  Host contest; entrants must tag you

Tags serve multiple purposes for contests: they gain new followers for your brand, reduce the workload (since you get notifications), and gain greater visibility for your brand.

60.  Use your tag in branding

Use your tag in your branding across the web.  Every infographic I do (including this one for social media tagging) includes my Twitter account tag @sm_onlineclass. Make it easy for people to tag you.

61.  Give credit with a tagged shout out

Impressed with an article? Tag the author.  Shared a great story? Tag the person or brand it’s about. Had a great experience at a restaurant? Take a photo of your meal and tag them on Instagram. Tagging is the EZ button for testimonials and reviews.

62.  Use tag on your products

Can you include a tag on your product packaging (or the product itself)?

63.  Use on SWAG giveaways

If you give away promotional freebies, be sure to include your social media tag on your products. It’s a reminder of your generosity and the product/service you offer.

64.  Tag relevant influencers (wisely)

Yes, I included this one before, but it bears repeating: if you’re tagging an influencer, be sure you have sufficient reason to. Don’t spam them. Be helpful, be relevant, and be authentic.

What’s your social media tag?

social media tagging infographic 300 Click HERE to download the full-size infographic[/ninja-popup]

Every small business can brand themselves and expand their influence using social media tags.

Go through this post again and identify which tactics best fit your business. You don’t have to completely change the way you market your brand; instead, simply start using a tags in your social media posts, visual content, and contests.

Use this infographic as a “to do list” of tactics, and experiment with a few to see which ones generate the most buzz and results for your brand. Don’t forget to let me know which ones worked for you, using the hashtag #smtagprimer.

Share this #smtagprimer Infographic On Your Site

Share this Image On Your Site


how to run your business on a chromebook
Sep 29

How to Run Your Business on a Chromebook for Less Than $300

By Maria Peagler

how to run your business on a chromebook


Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

I was skeptical myself, until I took my Chromebook to Austin for a conference.

That’s when I fell in love with it.

In this post I’m sharing why . . .

. . . and why you should consider a Chromebook for your work, studies, or personal life.

Two Laptops Destroyed in Two Months

It was heartbreaking —

My husband and I were on vacation celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary in the Florida Keys.  It was gorgeous, warm, and magical . . .

. . . until he dropped his laptop (while it was in the padded case) on a tile floor. He took out his Dell laptop, tried to boot it up, and nothing happened.  We removed the hard drive, sent it to a data recovery specialist, and the verdict was the data was unrecoverable.

All of my husband’s business data on that laptop was gone.

Yes, he had backups.  But he also was missing three months of critical data from his business.

Two weeks previous to the death of the Dell, my son’s laptop (my old MacBook Pro) had water spilled on it.

Another laptop gone — two laptops destroyed in two months.

I was determined this was not going to happen to me.

I wanted a backup laptop I could take on vacation, to conferences, and have just in case my current MacBook Pro died.

I was not, however, willing to shell out the $2,000+ a MacBook Pro costs.

Enter the Chromebook

I had read about Chromebook laptops, which run the Chrome operating system and are manufactured by multiple companies, including Google, Toshiba, Hewlett Packard and more.  The only downside is any application you run on it must be a web application, as Chromebooks are meant to run only on wi-fi and have a minimal hard drive.

Basically, they’re meant for cloud computing only.

When I analyzed the applications I use in my business, almost every single one was a web application:  WordPress, Google Docs, Canva, and social networks.

I researched Chromebooks and found they top out around $300 (unless you’re considering the Google Pixel version which costs over $1,000).  The Toshiba Chromebook 2 received glowing reviews, had a high-resolution display and was recommended by BusinessInsider.

I was sold. I could theoretically have a backup computer for less than $300.

I ordered my Toshiba Chromebook 2 from Amazon, and because I’m a Prime member, had it in two days.

Now the real test would begin.

Running on Wi-Fi Only is a Myth

Initially I used my new Chromebook in my home office only, where I have a good internet connection via DSL.  I wrote blog posts on the Chromebook, posted on social media, watched YouTube videos, and was pleased with how well it performed.  The only downside was I couldn’t create infographics since Pixelmator (my favorite graphics app) was Mac-only.  I could use instead, but my infographics were too complex for Canva to handle.

My love affair with it really began this month when I attended a conference in Austin.  In a large hotel conference room (with no wi-fi nor enough power strips for the 300+ laptops in the room).

My Chromebook prevailed!


First, you can use Google Docs without wi-fi on a Chromebook. So it didn’t matter that we were stuck in a windowless conference room without an internet connection.  I was able to take notes using Google Docs (and those notes were beautiful— tables, bullets, emojis — I took full advantage of everything Docs offers).  I also updated the notes on the flight home (without wi-fi).

Second, the Toshiba Chromebook 2 has a whopping eight-hour battery life.  And it’s really eight hours. I took conference notes from 9am to 5pm without ever being plugged in to a power strip.  Comparatively, my MacBook Pro battery lasts only about three hours, tops.

Third, my Chromebook is small enough that it fit easily in my leather handbag.  I didn’t need a separate laptop case, simplifying  travel, and needing one less carry-on bag.

Fourth, in the evening at my Airb&b guest house with wi-fi, I was able to record a webinar and upload it to Vimeo, extract the audio, covert the media files, and create an infographic, all using the Chromebook.  I was able to accomplish far more than I originally ever thought I could with a Chromebook.

What follows is a list of the apps I used to do accomplish all those projects, along with my other favorites:

Record a Webinar with Snagit

Snagit is a much-loved desktop screen capture tool from TechSmith, that also records video.  They debuted a bare-bones Chrome version last year, but I was unsure if I could record a webinar 40 minutes long using it.

I needed to record my screen, with multiple browser tabs open, and demonstrate to SMOC members how I was able to reach Google’s first page in 90 days (the topic of my webinar).

I recorded the entire 40 minute-webinar using Snagit.

While the sound quality wasn’t nearly as good as it would have been on my MacBook Pro, it worked well enough in a pinch.

Awesome! I had my 40-minute long Snagit file.

Now what? How was I going to get Snagit’s .avi file converted to .mp4 format so I could upload it to Vimeo?

Convert Almost Any File with CloudConvert

Snagit automatically saved my webinar recording on Google Drive.  When I went to open it, Drive asked me if I wanted to convert the file using CloudConvert.

I was game: I needed to convert the file, and had no idea how to do it using a web application.  My favorite desktop conversion tool, Handbrake, wasn’t available for Chromebook.

So I tried CloudConvert and was thrilled: it converted the webinar file from an .avi to an .mp4 successfully, and reduced it significantly in size, from 272MB to 104MB (tiny for a video file).


Then I realized I needed to convert the audio from the webinar to an .mp3 audio file: could CloudConvert do that too?

No problem: it took the .avi file and extracted the audio, saving it to an .mp3 file. Brilliant!  Again, the size was considerably smaller than .mp3 files I save using TechSmith’s Camtasia (my regular webinar recording tool).  Those .wav files are usually over 100MB; CloudConvert’s .mp3 was only 30 MB.

Create Lessons & Webinar Pages in WordPress

Since WordPress is a web application, I didn’t anticipate any issues using it on my Chromebook. I was able to create lessons, create the webinar page and embed the webinar video and audio files on it.  Smooth!

But, WordPress won’t accept a media upload larger than 2MB, so how could I upload my audio file that was 30MB?

Upload Files to My Server Using sFTP Client

I normally use FileZilla to upload files to my server (I even donated to the application’s author I was so pleased with it), but again, no Chromebook version of it.

So I searched the Chrome Store for the most popular FTP application and downloaded it: sFTP Client.

One FTP application is pretty similar to the next: either they work or they don’t.

It worked. The first time.

And it choose between regular FTP (File Transfer Protocol) or sFTP (Secure File Transfer Protocol).


Create an Infographic Using Google Slides

My last major test for the Chromebook was creating an infographic.  While I had read about graphic web applications like Pixlr, it was vastly different from Pixelmator, and I didn’t want to invest the learning curve in a tool I would use so infrequently.

Then it hit me:  HubSpot offers free templates for creating infographics using PowerPoint.  While I had never downloaded the templates, I wondered if it would be possible to create my own branded infographic using Google Slides?

I created a new slide deck with only one slide, modified the size to what I needed, and created an infographic consistent with the others I share in my members-only webinars. It had the same look & feel, and I was able to create it entirely on the Chromebook:

infographic created in Google Presentations

I was able to create this infographic entirely in Google Presentations

Manage Projects Using Trello

As a visual person, I enjoy using Trello for project management, as I can easily see the progress on each task as it happens.  I can also organize my projects and teams the way I choose.

Like other web applications, Trello worked seamlessly from my Chromebook.  It was the same experience as using it on my Mac, so I was able to communicate with my VA and developer without a hitch.

Projects continued while I was gone, and I managed them all from my Chromebook.

Creating Simple Graphics Using Canva

I already used Canva to create simple images for some of my blog posts and social media, so using it from the Chromebook wasn’t much different.  While the screen on my Toshiba was smaller than my MacBook Pro, I could easily zoom in to see the areas I needed in Canva.

Documenting Everything in Evernote

I use the basic free version of Evernote, so I wasn’t able to use it to take notes during the conference (no wi-fi during the day).  But at night, I had wi-fi and was able to access my travel itinerary, conference details, update my To-Do List and more.  I experienced no difference in using Evernote’s web application and the Mac desktop version.

Accounting for Non-Math Majors Using LessAccounting

As a writer, trainer, and artist, I love being creative and helping others to learn new things.

I have rarely loved math: I can do it, but it takes me longer than those for whom it’s a strength.

So I outsource my accounting. Not to a bookkeeper, not to QuickBooks (tried it, hated it), but to LessAccounting: a web-based accounting application designed for people who hate accounting.

I connect my bank accounts and PayPal, and it does the rest. It imports all of my transactions, including expenses, income, and I can create invoices from it as well.

It costs $39 a month, and it saves me hours of time every month.

I can log in from Chromebook, review and categorize my expenses (if necessary), and analyze my Profit & Loss statements, just as I could from my MacBook Pro.

A Chromebook for My Virtual Assistant

My experience with the Chromebook was so positive, that I purchased one for my VA when her old laptop began to have problems.  Because I already had experience successfully using the applications core to my business from the Chromebook, I knew she would be able to do the same.  I sent her an advance on PayPal, and she purchased the Chromebook in her country.

She’s thrilled with it.

As I am with mine.

I still love my MacBook Pro and use it as my primary business computer. But, if a new Chromebook debuts with a larger screen, I may make the switch permanently.

How Are You Using Your Chromebook?

It would be so great to hear how you’re using your own Chromebook (or questions about its potential).  Share your tips in the comments below so others can learn what’s possible using a Chromebook.

Projects I want to try from my Toshiba Chromebook 2 are:

  • Recording a live webinar with attendees
  • Reading a Kindle book (I’ve downloaded the app but haven’t used it much yet)
  • Exploring its abilities I have yet to discover

I’ll keep this post updated as I learn and experience more!

Jul 14

32 Social Media Marketing Resources from 2nd Quarter of 2015

By Janice Deleon

Second Quarter list of 2015

Every week here at we give you a list of our most recent resources with our Weekly Top 5: your lessons, infographics, webinars, and articles. We’ve gathered all those resources from 2nd quarter of the year into one GINORMOUS list for you, making it uber-easy to find what you need to grow your business using social media marketing.


Social Media Strategy

  1. How to Turn a Potential PR Disaster into an Opportunity
  2. Help! My Marketing Isn’t Sexy!
  3. Could This Be the Perfect Social Media Post? *
  4. Secrets to Increasing Sales for Small Business Using Social Media Marketing
  5. How to Go on Vacation without Abandoning Your Business
  6. Announces New Online Social Media Certificate Training 
  7. How a New York City-Based Small Business Pivoted for Greater Revenue [CASE STUDY]
  8. How Georgetown Cupcakes Uses Social Media to Keep Customers Coming Back for More
  9. How to “Productize” Your Service Business for Easier Revenue
  10. Social Marketing 2015 — Babies Edition
  11. Small Business vs. Big Business: Tactics You Can Use to Beat Big Business
  12. CHEAT SHEET: 4 Social Media Engagement Hacks
  13. 4 Easy Ways to Make Money with Social Media Marketing
  14. Social Media Strategy Template & Spreadsheet
  15. How to Get More Traffic to Your Website Using Social Media *
  16. Why Your Social Media Marketing Isn’t Generating Revenue



  1. The EASIEST Way to Get Facebook Fans — Updated! *
  2. New Privacy Options in Facebook *
  3. What Gets the Highest Engagement on Facebook in 2015?


  1. How to Craft an Irresistible Offer [WEBINAR EXCERPT]
  2. How to Craft an Irresistible Offer Your Competition Will Want to Steal [Webinar Replay] *
  3. Branding Your Small Business [WEBINAR EXCERPT]
  4. [WEBINAR EXCERPT] Drive Sales from Instagram & Pinterest
  5. [WEBINAR EXCERPT] 3 Must-Have Google Analytics Reports for Small Business
  6. Can Mobile Users Find Your Website [WEBINAR EXCERPT]


  1. Make Instagram Contests Easy *
  2. Want to Sell Clothes Online? You Can Use Instagram for That!

Instagram & Pinterest

  1. Instagram & Pinterest Sales Checklist


  1. 7 Ways to Say Thank You on Twitter

Google Plus

  1. 7 Google Search Secrets to Find Anything Online


  1. How to Use Hashtags on Your Hangtags *
  2. The Oscars Use of Hashtags in 2015 *


  1. SWIPE FILE: How to WOW Potential Customers with Testimonials *

* Indicates Members-Only Content

Laura Vanderkam Interview with Six-Figure Working Moms
Jun 30

How Six-Figure Working Moms Make Time for Work, Play, and Family

By Janice Deleon

Laura Vanderkam Interview with Six-Figure Working Moms

How often do you hear “you can’t have it all?”

That’s a myth, according to Laura Vanderkam, author of I Know How She Does It.  She, and other working moms earning six-figure incomes DO have it all, and they tracked their time for one week to prove it.

Vanderkam explains what she learned by analyzing those time logs (including how a doctor finds time for poetry) and far more in this fascinating interview with Laura Vanderkam.

How Working Moms CAN Have It All: Laura Vanderkam Interview

Read the interview in the Q&A below.  Listen to audio clips or the full  14-minute interview.

Listen to the full interview here:

You asked working moms earning over $100,000 a year to keep a one-week time log to see how they spent their time, balanced work, family, and self care. You called this the Mosaic Project. Can you describe your concept of life and time balance as a mosaic with tiles?

For my time diary project, I had people keep track of their time, mostly using spreadsheets. If you think about it, an excel spreadsheet is possibly one of the druriest things you could ever think of. They are just not very exciting. When you first think about it, it’s like oh my goodness, how can I shoehorn my life into cells on a grid? Seems something so wrong about that.

As I started thinking about it, I came to see that the grid could also be thought of as a mosaic, and that these little cells could be tiles. From that perspective, we are the artists. Right? We are the mosaic makers, deciding on where we will put the tiles of work and family and personal care. Creating, over time, a mosaic of the whole week that would hopefully look like we want it to look. And maybe we have to be creative about where we move the tiles around. Maybe there are some stressful tiles in there too, they don’t all have to be perfect. But on the other hand, when you look at the whole picture you can come up with something pretty good.

You mention being the artist of your life: seeing your life as art and your time and what you fill your life with. It’s a fascinating perspective that, I don’t think a lot of people would think of.

Life is lived in hours and so what we do with our lives is going to be a function of how we spend our hours. Hopefully we are creating the lives we want and if we are, then they are works of art and we should celebrate them as such.

What is your response be to women who say, “I just don’t have time?”
You know, maybe it’s true, but I like to use some of the phrases that I heard from one of the busiest people I interviewed. By busy I mean she was running a small business with twelve people on the payroll and she had six children in her spare time.

When I asked her about this, she said I don’t use the phrase, “I don’t have time.” She would say, “it’s not a priority.”

If you think about that may be more accurate language. Well, you could say, I don’t have time to dust my blinds, but probably if somebody offered to pay you a $100,000 to do it, you’d find the time pretty quickly. But you know, since that’s not going to happen you can acknowledge that it’s just not a priority for you. This is really honestly true with a lot of things in life.

Now granted, there may be consequence to maybe choosing not spend time on certain things or choosing to spend times on other activities, but largely we are intelligent people in well-to-do countries, so we have a lot of choice about how we spend our time. We can argue about bits of time that we can’t control, but on the whole, a lot of it we do.

Tips like these and significantly more are covered in

One of the most fascinating women that you profiled, was Dr. Lynda Bascelli. Can you tell us a little but about her and what you learned from analyzing the time logs of some of these successful women?
Yes, Dr. Bascelli was one of the women who kept a time log for me. She is a busy physician who lives in New Jersey and she has three children. Yet when I looked at her log, I did not see the stressful time, the harriedness that you sometimes see here and there on logs. I saw almost none of that. She did have a long work week.

One day she saw patients for ten hours straight, not even a break. She had one situation where she came home one night to find her babysitter and the kids were on the roof, which was quite a moment. But when you look at the whole week, you saw that she would spent her mornings doing things like exercising, journaling and yoga. They had a lot of relaxed family time together. I thought it was really amazing that, here she has such a big, potentially stressful job, has a big family, and yet she was finding time for these personal things.

I’ve gotten to know her better over time and I think it’s really just how she prioritizes her time. She’s very thoughtful about enlisting help. At the time that she kept the time log, her family had a college student living them as a way to have some of that extra help that they needed so that when there were all sorts of wintry school delays during the week she kept that time log, it was not a crisis. She wasn’t postponing seeing patients because of those school delays, because she thoughtfully enlisted this help. She also had a very relaxed attitude towards life. As she told me, no one ever died of going to school in the same clothes two days in a row. She was totally fine if her kids wanted to choose their own clothes and pull something out of the dirty clothes hamper and put it back on, and it’s not a thing to battle over. I really enjoyed seeing all that she managed to do with 168 hours.

One of the chapters in your book is called Making Success Possible. Can you recommend the top strategy for doing that?

Well this chapter about Making Success Possible is largely focused on how we spend our work hours. I think sometimes as women we have an unfortunate tendency to focus simply on the work in front of us. We want to be ultra-efficient at it, we want to get done, get home, and that makes total sense. But the problem is that business is never just business. You have to make space both for thinking about the future and where you want your career to be going and also for investing in those soft side of work things. The relationships, the mentoring, the relaxed time together, that really help push a career forward. You can do a wonderful job on the work right in front of you, but if you’re not investing in those long term things, eventually your career is going to stall.

The good news is that there is time, there is space in the 168 hours we have in a week to do the work you need to and also invest in those relationships at work, and still be fully present at home as well. So I talk about strategies women do for being seen at work, right? If people do things like happy hour and social hours after work, you might give yourself a budget of three events per month. Three events, that’s three nights, there’s thirty evenings in a month, so that’s 30% of your time. 90% you can be at home, but that 10% investing in those relationships could really go a long way in showing that you’re the kind of person who will still do those things.

You can also build in face-time during the day. I mean, we take breaks anyway. Sometimes we fool ourselves that we’re not. I’m hunkered down at my desk, working through lunch, look at how productive I am. But, then you find yourself midway through the afternoon going on social media, which you know can be a good thing as you know. But unintentionally, you’re on social media for half an hour and you realize that was my brain taking a break, but it wasn’t a real break. I didn’t get up and return to my computer refreshed.

Get up and interact with people, have conversations, take a colleague out for coffee, take a walk with someone. That’s ways you can invest in relationships at work, while still working reasonable numbers of hours.

My last question for you Laura is the one that I ask everyone that I interview. What is the one question I should have asked you, but did not?

I think one thing that was really heartening that I learned in my study, is that women with big jobs and also have families, still get an adequate amount of sleep. About 90% of the women in my study, got at least the seven to nine hours that public health types say we should get per day when you averaged it over the whole week. To be sure, there were some bad nights, but not that many. In the whole thousand and one nights that I looked at, only 3.6% of the days, so about 36 days of the whole thousand and one days, featured fewer than six hours of sleep. So yes, sleep deprivation occurs, but not on a hugely widespread basis. I think that’s a very liberating idea, that we often hear if you want to build a big job and you want to have a family, you’re just never going to sleep. You’ll be one harried sleep deprived mess. And for the most part, that’s actually not true.

You’ve got a brand new baby, so how are you doing on sleep?

My baby’s five months old now, and fortunately he’s pretty good. Some nights are better than others. I’m looking forward to having it be a little more sure that’ll I get to sleep through the night. I’m coping it with it by trying to go to bed pretty early. If I’m in bed by ten, if he wakes up at five, that means I’ve gotten at least seven hours of sleep. Usually he wakes up between five and six, so usually I get between seven and eight. So I’m managing it pretty well.

In, you get classes on every major social network, infographics, webinars, and 1:1 coaching with me. I hope to see you inside


May 12

How a New York City-Based Small Business Pivoted for Higher Revenue [CASE STUDY]

By Maria Peagler

New York city is the big time: if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, right?

What if your small business business revenue isn’t enough to “make it?”

It happens. To the best of entrepreneurs.

Mega-cities like New York and San Francisco have astronomical living expenses.  How can small business owners pivot successfully and increase their revenue to thrive in these cities?

That’s what you’ll learn in today’s case study.

Share this Image On Your Site

Case Study: Lynda Spiegel of Rising Star Resumes

Meet Lynda Spiegel, a human resources professional with a high-flying career behind her who launched her own tutoring and essay-writing business.

Lynda Spiegel of Rising Star Resumes Case Study at

Lynda Spiegel of Rising Star Resumes

Based in New York City, Lynda specialized in writing essays for English as second-language (ESL) college students in her EssayExcellence business. Her clients were mostly engineering students from Asia, as they simply didn’t have a mastery of the English language that allowed them to write term papers for their college classes.  That’s where Lynda’s business focused.

Essay Excellence case study

Lynda’s old business: EssayExcellence

Lynda said EssayExcellence’s website search engine optimization (SEO) was “non-existent,” so she had to resort to Craigslist to find most of her clients.

Her results?

According to Lynda, “Some great students, but a lot of deadbeats who disappeared or didn’t pay. The majority couldn’t afford to pay enough to make my time investment worthwhile.​”

Lynda’s talents and expertise were definitely being underserved by EssayExcellence, and her revenue reflected it.

The Pivot Point in Lynda’s Business

So how did Lynda decide which direction to go in when her current business wasn’t generating enough revenue? That’s where most entrepreneurs get stuck: they have so many options, they don’t know how to choose the best one.

Learn. From. Lynda.

It all started with social media.

Networks Lynda used to pivot her business:

Lesson #1: Establish Credibility Using Social Media Marketing

“I’ve always been a heavy user of LinkedIn,” said Lynda. “When I ran human resources in the corporate world, that’s where I sourced all my candidates​​​. I believe it’s a critical networking site for all business professionals​ and I wanted my website to speak to business professionals who spend their time on LinkedIn.”

That heavy use paid off: Lynda started getting messages and calls from mid-life professionals who were in the middle of a career transition and needed an updated resume.

lynda spiegel linkedin case study

Lynda regularly publishes articles on LinkedIn, establishing herself as an expert in HR

These professionals were far more lucrative clients than ESL students who found her on Craigslist.

While Lynda was looking for business on Craigslist, her consistent social media marketing on LinkedIn allowed far more affluent clients to find her.

Lesson #2: Don’t Go It Alone

Once Lynda decided to go into a new direction, she knew she couldn’t do it alone.

Here’s what Lynda did to pivot EssayExcellence into Rising Star Resumes:

  • Used social media marketing to establish credibility, expertise and connect with business professionals
  • Ditched her old website and hired a web developer to build a new one
  • Took classes at to update her social media and SEO skills
  • Got private coaching from me to guide her in the right direction, especially in SEO

Lynda relied on her strengths (human resources, what makes a stellar resume, LinkedIn), and reached out for help with what wasn’t.

First, she knew social media marketing would be a critical part of Rising Star Resumes, so she enrolled at to update her Twitter, Google+ and Slideshare skills, and learn more about SEO.

“The only person visiting my old website was me,”  said Lynda.

Second, she took advantage of the private coaching offered in her membership. We discussed tactics she could use specifically for her business to increase her SEO and get followers on Twitter.

Third, she hired a web developer to build an entirely new website.  “I felt that I was making such a radical change in the type of service I was offering as well as the type of client I was trying to attract that a total re-branding was in order,” said Lynda. “I used Dave Liao at Offpeak Designs. He was one of my best hires in the corporate world, and when he decided to go out on his own, I always got great feedback referring projects to him.”

Rising Star Resumes case study

Lynda’s new business website: Rising Star Resumes

Notice how Lynda relied on her existing network to source talent she needed for her pivot? Making a transition doesn’t mean abandoning your previous relationships. Rely on them to make your business stronger.

Lesson #3: Follow Your Most Lucrative Clients

Lynda kept her options open when she heard from mid-career professionals who needed resume help. She saw the opportunity before her and was willing to make a significant pivot in her business.

What opportunities have presented themselves to you that you’ve said “No” to?

While you don’t have to say “Yes” to everything, be flexible with the direction of your business. If your original plan doesn’t produce enough revenue, follow what does. You never know what other opportunities will present themselves once you make that change.

Lynda’s Results

So what are Lynda’s results after pivoting her essay business into resume writing for mid-career professionals?

  • A more lucrative client base
  • Increased traffic to her new website
  • Growing base of Twitter followers

To what does she attribute her success?

“Those online classes on Twitter, Slideshare and Google+ made all the difference, and the one-on-one coaching was targeted to specific questions I’d run into​,” said Lynda. “According to Google Analytics, I’m getting an increasing number of visitors.​ I think the increased traffic has more to do with your advice than the website itself.”

I also credit Lynda with being persistent when her initial efforts didn’t pay off.  It’s discouraging to see your business fail, but as Thomas Edison said:

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

If your business isn’t generating the revenue you need, don’t give up. Identify the problem, commit to making a change, and get help with it.


Apr 06

65 Social Media Marketing Resources from 1st Quarter of 2015

By Janice Deleon


Every week here at we give you a list of our most recent resources with our Weekly Top 5: your lessons, infographics, webinars, and articles. We’ve gathered all those resources from 1st quarter of the year into one GINORMOUS list for you, making it uber-easy to find what you need to grow your business using social media marketing.


Social Media Strategy

  1. 1:1 Coaching Each Month for Members  *
  2. 4 Easy Ways to Make Money with Social Media Marketing
  3. Be More Efficient in 2015 by Identifying Your Top 20%
  4. CHEAT SHEET: 4 Social Media Engagement Hacks *
  5. Emailing Leads from a Trade Show – is that SPAM? *
  6. How to Crowdfund Your Business
  7. How to Get More Traffic to Your Website Using Social Media
  8. How to Repurpose Your Content  *
  9. How to Run a Profitable Flash Sale *
  10. Member Question Re: Dark Social Media *
  11. My Favorite 15+ Books for Small Business Owners 
  12. Need More Traffic to Your Website? Think Again! 
  13. New Private Mastermind Group for Members    *
  14. NEW! Social Media Strategy Template & Spreadsheet *
  15. One-on-One Coaching for Members     *
  16. SMOC is #1 on Alltop with This Article  *
  17. Social Media Certification for Each Class *
  18. Social Media Hacks You Can Use for More Engagement on ANY Network
  19. Social Media Strategy Template *
  20. Social Media Strategy Template & Spreadsheet *
  21. Start 2015 with an Updated Social Media Action Plan
  22. SWIPE FILE: How to WOW Potential Customers with Testimonials *
  23. The Oscars Use of Hashtags in 2015
  24. The State of Social Media for Small Business [CLASSIC]
  25. The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags
  26. This Surprising Social Network Outperforms All Others
  27. Use Your Website Assets in Your Online Marketing *
  28. VIDEO – How to Find Your Target Market *
  29. What’s the #1 Thing You Wished You Understood Better About Marketing?
  30. Why Your Social Media Marketing Isn’t Generating Revenue
  31. Best Books for Small Business Owners [INFOGRAPHIC]
  32. Content Generation Infographic  *
  33. Vote for Your Favorite Version of Our Classic Infographic *



  1. 64 Tactics to Use on Facebook in 2015
  2. Brand New for 2015: Facebook Marketing [INFOGRAPHIC]
  3. Facebook Changes Post Scheduling Options   *
  4. Great Example of a Simple Business Video *
  5. How to Do Business-to-Business Networking on Facebook *
  6. How to Find a Facebook Post in a Group *
  7. How to Transition Friends to Your Facebook Business Page *
  8. How to Use a Facebook Ad to Market Vacation Rentals *
  9. How to Use Hashtags on Your Hangtags *
  10. NEW CLASS! Facebook Advertising on a Budget  *
  11. New Facebook Advertising Lessons in Facebook 103  *
  12. New Facebook Private Group for Members *
  13. The One Simple Step that Increases Facebook Reach Exponentially!  *
  14. Website Images Won’t Appear on Facebook Post Links *
  15. What Gets the Highest Engagement on Facebook in 2015?
  16. What’s the Proper Recognition for a Facebook Like? *


  1. [WEBINAR EXCERPT] 3 Must-Have Google Analytics Reports for Small Business *
  2. Can Mobile Users Find Your Business? Webinar, Slide Deck, Audio & Infographic *
  3. Can Mobile Users Find Your Website [WEBINAR EXCERPT] *
  4. Can Mobile Users Find Your Website? Webinar Replay & Resources *
  5. How to Automate Your Social Media Marketing: [Webinar EXCERPT] *
  6. How to Protect Your Business from Hackers: [Webinar Excerpt] *
  7. How to Protect Your Business from Hackers: Webinar Replay *
  8. THURSDAY: How to Protect Your Business from Hackers – Webinar, Slide Deck, Audio & Infographic


  1. Your Post Repinned Over 100 Times on Pinterest? 


  1. [INTERVIEW] How an Entrepreneur Gets Over 70% of Her Business from Twitter

Google Plus

  1. 3 Must-Have Google Analytics Reports for Small Business
  2. Google Analytics Made Simple: Live Webinar + Recording + MP3 Audio + Infographic *


  1. LinkedIn Fixes Their BIG Mistake of 2014


  1. Help! I Have Multiple YouTube Channels and Don’t Know How to Fix It! *


  1. Do Local Directories Help a Local Business’ SEO? *

* Indicates Members-Only Content

Feb 17

The Ultimate Guide to Hashtags [INFOGRAPHIC]

By Maria Peagler

Click to download a full-size version of the infographic

<< Click on the infographic to download your own full-size version.

Hashtags are ONE constant in an ever-changing social media world. So what are they and how can they help you in your online marketing?

Rely on the Ultimate Guide to Hashtags infographic and this blog post, where I demystify the hashtag and everything you ever wanted to know about it but didn’t know to ask. Browse the explanations of each tactic, why it’s important, and what it can do for you.

Remember to share this infographic with your own network, using the #hashtagprimer hashtag.





1. Hashtag is a # symbol used before a word

The hashtag is the pound symbol (#) preceding a word used online, in television, and in print media. For example, the hashtag #BreakingBad identifies the television show and would display on-screen during episodes.

2. Hashtags were created by users on Twitter

Hashtags were invented by Twitter users who were frustrated over the lack of a robust search feature to find tweets based on topics they were interested in.  Creating the hashtag made it easier to search Twitter for topical content.

3.  Hashtags offer a simple way to organize & search for content

Hashtags provide an excellent way to make your posts easily found by others. For example, #SXSW15 identifies a post about the South by Southwest conference in Austin for 2015, making it easy to find tweets about the event, who’s attending, and more.

4.  Twitter turns a hashtag into a hyperlink

Twitter turns each hashtag into a hyperlink that, when clicked, will show all the recent tweets for that hashtag.  It’s a great way to see what others are saying about that topic and to find people with common interests.

5.  Hashtags are popular with the media and fans

All types of media — online, network, cable, and print — quickly adopted the hashtag and use it encourage fans to tweet about live events and shows.  You’ll often see a hashtag at the bottom of the screen when watching your favorite show.

6.  Hashtags help to brand your messaging

Hashtags provide an easy to way to brand your content, whether using your own hashtag or one identifying it with a popular trend. Look at how four different brands use variations of the #superbowl hashtag to brand their tweets:

the ultimate guide to hashtags

The NFL and the SuperBowl use the official #SB49 hashtag for SuperBowl 49


The ultimate guide to hashtags

AdAge uses the standard #superbowl hashtag to brand their article


ultimate guide to hashtags

StubHub created their own hashtag #SuperBall, branding an event surrounding the SuperBowl


Tips like these and significantly more are covered in

7.  Hashtags can provide colorful commentary

Using just the right hashtag can give your message a completely new twist. #awkward, #winning, and #fail add an ironic twist to a tweet, such as “Best hashtag ever for an @NFL press conference #flexball #fail,” when the Gillette Flexball was shown on the backdrop of the Patriots “deflate-gate” press conference: scrn_2015-01-22_05-36-54_PM

8.  Use local hashtags

Using a local hashtag for your city  makes it easy for people to identify where you’re located, and easy to find you in search results.  Using a hashtag like #ATL, #NYC, #LA, #CHI, and others immediately give your tweet its own “geolocator.”

Where to Use Hashtags




9. Twitter is the king of hashtags, especially #FF FollowFriday

Twitter is the dominant network for using hashtags. It’s where the hashtag was born, raised, and continues to thrive.  Twitter etiquette is to use one, two, or at most three hashtags.  Any more than that is #overkill.

10. Facebook started recognizing hashtags in 2014

Facebook jumped on the hashtag bandwagon in 2014, and now allows its users to search using hashtags.  Similar to Twitter, the etiquette here is to use one to three hashtags at the end of a post.  More than that is seen as spamming your fans. Note: In the past, Google has shown Facebook hashtagged content in its search results, as shown in the image below. This screen shot is from 2014, and as of 2015, they have discontinued it; but with Google, you never know if it will pop up again:

google indexes facebook results

Google displayed hashtag search results from Facebook & Twitter, as shown here. Clicking on the Facebook entry took you to the search results within it, as shown in the screen below

facebook hashtags linked on google

11. Instagram users make serious use of multiple hashtags

If hashtags originated on Twitter, Instagram users win the award for overuse of them. It’s not unusual to see Instagram posts with up to 25-30 hashtags, making the image easily found when people search. I don’t recommend using that many:  3-5 well-researched hashtags for your topic are certainly #enough.

Oprah uses just one hashtag to promote her upcoming cruise. But the commenter "spamming" her post is using far more.

Oprah uses just one hashtag to promote her upcoming cruise. But the commenter reaching out to her post is using far more (for his own purposes)


12.  Google+ automatically assigns hashtags to your posts based on your content

Google+ is unique from every other social network for this one reason: it assigns your posts hashtags based on the content in them.  You can still use hashtags of your own in the post, but if you don’t, Google+ tries its best to give your post at least one hashtag based on the words you used in the post.

Notice my post doesn't contain a single hashtag, but Google+ assigned it the #webinar hashtag based on its content

Notice my post doesn’t contain a single hashtag, but Google+ assigned it the #webinar hashtag based on its content


13.  Pinterest unofficially recognizes hashtags

Pinterest doesn’t natively use hashtags, but many people use multiple hashtags at the end of their pin description as a way to get found in search. Why not? It can’t hurt.

14.  Google displays the results of a hashtag used in search

If you search Google using a hashtag, it returns results from social networks and website/blog content.

google returns hashtag results in search

A Google search for #sm returns results from social networks and the web


15.  Tumblr users tag their content using hashtags

Tumblr bloggers use hashtags to identify their content, make it easily found in search, and add it to what Tumblr calls a “tag channel.” According to Pete Cashmore of Mashable, “Tumblr is getting into the real-time search game, allowing users to contribute to a tag channel and find others who share their interests. It’s a move that makes Tumblr more public: in its early days it was a fairly closed community.”

In, you get classes on every major social network, infographics, webinars, and 1:1 coaching with me. I hope to see you inside

How to Use Hashtags




16. Don’t use spaces in hashtags

If your hashtag is more than one word or a phrase, omit the spaces between the words, as shown below in #17.

17. #socialmedia not #social media

If you want to use the hashtag for social media, the correct usage is #socialmedia, not #social media. You can also use the abbreviation #sm instead.  However, be sure to research if you’re using the correct abbreviation.  Many hashtags use the same acronym, and you want to be directing people to the right content.

18. Use hashtags at the end of a message

While a hashtag helps to identify your content, it isn’t critical to conveying your message, so use it at the end of your message.  You don’t want to force people to wade through multiple hashtags to get to the heart of your tweet or post. twitter hashtags end of msg

19.  Abbreviate long phrases

Hashtags are especially helpful on Twitter and Instagram where you have limited space, so it makes sense to abbreviate your hashtag if it’s a long phrase.


Coca-Cola uses the abbreviation #MLK in their Instagram post about Martin Luther King Jr. Day


20.  #tbt for Throwback Thursday and #FF for Follow Friday

Throwback Thursday, or #tbt, is a social media tradition of posting a photo from a previous era (think 70’s bell bottoms or the 80’s ripped t-shirts). Follow Friday, or #FF, is a Twitter tradition of listing people whom you recommend others follow for their great tweets.


Johnathan uses #FF for Follow Friday to give his post context: these are the people he recommends you follow (and shows that rules are made to be broken, like using hashtags at the beginning of a post!)


21.  Create your own hashtags

There’s no rule about who creates or owns a hashtag (even though Coca-Cola is trying to trademark a couple), so feel free to brand your business by creating your own hashtag.

I branded my Slideshare presentation with #college2career to immediately identify it's purpose

I branded my Slideshare presentation with #college2career to immediately identify it’s purpose


22.  Audi created #WantAnR8

A great example of not only creating your own hashtag but building a buzz around product demand is Audi’s #WantAnR8 campaign. Audi, its dealers, owners, and wannabe owners all use the hashtag: scrn_2015-02-03_01-36-51_PM

23.  Use at events #SXSW15

A widely adopted use of hashtags is at events: conferences, sporting events, and concerts. South by Southwest uses the hashtag #SXSW15, abbreviated with the current year’s event. Simply use the hashtag in your post making it easy for others attending or shadowing the event to follow what’s happening.

24.  Learn popular hashtags

It’s important that you understand the most popular hashtags in your industry. Every field from accounting to consumer goods to schools and universities use hashtags to brand their messages.  The best way to learn which hashtags are appropriate for your market is to follow industry leaders on social media and observe how they use them, and which hashtags appear frequently.

Examples of Innovative Hashtags




25. #RT gives a shout out on Twitter as a retweet

One of the most common hashtags is #RT on Twitter, which is a retweet of someone’s tweet you liked. It’s considered a recommendation of their post, and some of the most retweeted content are funny and ironic tweets.

26. #NYC, #ATL, #austin all identify cities in a tweet

Use a local hashtag to identify yourself or your brand as being located in a city and proud of it!

27.  Fashionistas use #ootd to show off their “outfit of the day”

Beauty and fashion bloggers use the #ootd hashtag to share their outfit of the day. It’s a great way for readers to find fashion inspiration, and the bloggers gain new followers.

28.  #socialmedia, #entrepreneur

Hashtags identifying your industry are a great way to give context to a post. #socialmedia and #entrepreneur are just two of the hundreds of hashtags that identify yourself and your content as relevant to your field.

29.  Television encourages viewer engagement for #breakingbad, #idol, #xfactor

Television shows commonly display their hashtag on screen during an episode, encouraging viewers to live tweet about the show.  Networks often generate more buzz by making the show’s stars available afterward to chat with viewers on twitter.

30.  Recommend colleagues with Follow Friday #FF on Twitter

A Twitter tradition is to recommend new followers, colleagues, and those you admire by tagging them with the Follow Friday hashtag. The tweet “#FF @MarketingMel @PattyFarmer @EbonyLove @EkaterinaWalter awesome #interviews” would recommend those entrepreneurs as people I’ve interviewed and recommend.

31.  Hashtags help raise awareness and funding for #curechildhoodcancer

Hashtags aren’t limited to for-profit brands. Causes like #curechildhoodcancer have run highly successful fundraising campaigns using a branded hashtag. One of the most successful non-profit campaigns was the #icebucketchallenge for ALS in 2014.

32.  Charlie Sheen’s #winning is best known, most ironic hashtag #fail

Probably the most ironic, and well-known hashtag is #winning, used by Charlie Sheen during his personal meltdown. What #hashtag do you want your brand to be known for?

Branding Your Business with Hashtags




33. Southwest paints #bagsflyfree on their airplanes

Southwest is famous for not charging travelers for checking a bag, so they display the #bagsflyfree hashtag in big bold letters ON their planes.  Where better to advertise than at the airport to travelers who DID pay to check their luggage?

Happy customers love to share their Southwest #bagsflyfree experience

Happy customers love to share their Southwest #bagsflyfree experience


34. Lancome encouraged celebrated their clients with #BareSelfie

While Dove is famous for using real women in their television and print ads, Lancome brilliantly encouraged women to take a selfie without makeup and tag it #BareSelfie, as part of a marketing campaign for a new serum. It generated 500 photos with the hashtag, and website sales were converting at four percent.

35.  Lexus teamed with Instagrammers with #LexusInstaFilm

Lexus collaborated with over 200 Instagrammers to generate a stop motion film using Instagram photos. Tagged with #LexusInstaFilm, the campaign generated 1,000 new followers on the social network.

36.  Coke so successful with #smilewithacoke they’ve applied for a trademark

Generations fondly remember commercials & jingles singing Have a Coke and a smile, and the newest version for the 21st century is #smilewithacoke. Now they’re applying for a trademark to protect it.

37. LiquidWeb hosting offers helpful #lwtips on Twitter

One of the best ways to connect with potential customers is by being helpful, and LiquidWeb hosting does that on Twitter by offering #lwtips

38.  LinkedIn encouraged users to predict what the year would bring #BigIdeas2015

LinkedIn tapped into the “new year, new predictions” habit of many bloggers and thought leaders with their #BigIdeas2015 hashtag.  They started the post series with big names like Richard Branson, then encouraged their users to write their own LinkedIn posts using the hashtag: #bigideas2015 linkedin hashtag

39.  Dell computers sets up #DellLounge at industry trade shows

At its major trade shows, Dell Computers sets up an elaborate lounge for people to stop by, see their latest innovations, and take photos of themselves tagged #DellLounge.  They team up with movie studios to show their movies on Dell computers, with charities who need exposure, and more, all in the lounge. They make #DellLounge a social destination at trade shows. Their marketing strategy is brilliant, resulting in trade show attendees generating massive buzz for Dell.

40.  Who doesn’t love to share about a Wendy’s #Frosty?

Do customers love your products and share them with their friends? Then create a hashtag for them! Wendy’s uses the #Frosty hashtag on Twitter to announce the proceeds of coupon books going to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption: wendy's #frosty hashtag

Hashtag Etiquette




41. Use relevant hashtags

Stick to hashtags that are topical to your content. Don’t resort to “hashtag spam” by using hashtags that are popular but have nothing to do with your message.

42. Twitter etiquette allows one to three hashtags

Since a tweet is a brief 140 characters, limit your hashtags to only those most relevant to your content: from one to three hashtags.

43.  Instagram reigns with up to 30 hashtags

Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per image (yes, really).  Why you need that many is frankly beyond me, unless you’re trying to over-promote yourself. It’s not unusual to see Instagram images with 10 – 20 hashtags.

44.  Use hashtags at the end of your message

The most important element of your message is the content, whether text or visual. So don’t force people to wade through your sea of hashtags to get to the good stuff — because they likely won’t.

45.  Keep hashtags short

As much as I would love to use my brand name in a hashtag, is just too long. So I stick to #sm or #socialmedia. Some Instagrammers use long hashtags like #curlyhairdontcare, but they’re often tagging personal photos instead of brand images.

46.  Use them to brand your content

No matter what social network you’re using, you can use hashtags to brand your content. I’m using #hashtagprimer for this post, and LinkedIn used #BigIdeas2015 for their post series.

47.  Use hashtags to brand your event

Event marketing routinely takes advantage of a hashtag to promote the event, the people speaking & attending, as well as the great images and takeaways attendees love to share.  Make sure that your guests know the appropriate hashtag to use at the event by announcing it at the beginning of each session.

48. Use hashtags to brand contests and run them across multiple platforms

YesToCarrots ran a great promotion called #YesToColor, and announced it via email. I received this email from them asking customers who had purchased from their online store to enter the contest and use the hashtag #YesToColor.  Notice they did not specify which social network or online platform to use.  It didn’t matter.  They could search for the hashtag using Google, HootSuite, SproutSocial, or other social media marketing management tools to find all the entrants and the buzz they generated: #yestocolor hashtag contest

Search Using Hashtags

hashtag search

49. Makes content easy to find

Want to find the latest entries in Jimmy Fallon’s hashtag of the week? Search Twitter for it or click on the hashtag from Twitter to see the entries.  Here are the tweets for #WhyImSingle (the hashtag for Valentine’s Day):

A Google search displays the results for the #whyimsingle hashtag

A Google search displays the results for the #whyimsingle hashtag


See a tweet with the #whyImsingle hashtag? Click on it and Twitter shows you all the tweets using it


50. Use hashtags in search engines

Notice I searched Google for the #WhyImSingle hashtag? It shows me the results not just on Twitter, but across the web from sources like HuffingtonPost, YouTube, Tumblr and more. Doing a hashtag search from a search engine doesn’t limit you to one particular social network, so it’s great for finding hashtags across platforms.

51.  Search for content within a social network using a hashtag

Looking for a hashtagged post within a social network? Most let you search within the platform for hashtags. The results will vary by network and their privacy policies. For example, Facebook will return hashtagged content from people you’re friends with and public pages.  You won’t see hashtagged content from people you aren’t friends with.

52.  Hashtags are clickable in almost every major social network

Just as I clicked on #whyImsingle in Twitter, you can do the same to find inspiration for #weddingbouquets in Pinterest. In fact, you can click on a hashtag from almost every social network and it will display posts using it: scrn_2015-02-13_03-38-41_PM

53.  Find messages across online channels

Searching for a hashtag from a search engine returns results from multiple online channels, not just social networks, as shown in #49 and #50.

54.  Motivated users find you

Hashtags make it dead simple for people looking for your brand or content to find you. Be sure to clearly announce which hashtags you’re using and people will find a path to your brand.

55.  Great for contest entries

Running a contest but don’t want to limit it to just a single social network? No problem. Tell contest entrants to tag their #entry using your hashtag, and you can search for them in Google, Bing, Hootsuite, or other social media management tool.  You’ll get more buzz and more entries.

56.  Use in email & chat to make topics easier to find

While you don’t get any marketing buzz from this tactic, some people do use hashtags for their own purposes in email and chat.  Using a hashtag #Introduction in the subject line of an email makes it much easier to find later than searching for “introduction” which will likely return too many results.

Marketing Using Hashtags




57. Brand your contests using a hashtag

Follow the excellent example from YesToCarrots in tactic #48: brand your contest using a unique hashtag. It immediately makes the contest buzzworthy. They were able to run the contest across multiple social networks, allowing customers to post where it was easy for them, all using the same hashtag.

58. Hashtags provide cohesive cross-platform messaging

Every social network has its own etiquette and rules: Twitter is limited to 140 characters while there’s almost no limit for Facebook. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags while Twitter discourages more than three. By using a single hashtag for your marketing campaign, you can follow those guidelines and still successfully brand your message.

59.  Use in visual content: images, video

Smart brands use hashtags even in their visual content, like images and video (notice #hashtagprimer on the infographic on this blog post?). While it’s not searchable or SEO-worthy, it does provide a cohesive marketing message, and educates your audience on the proper hashtag to use when mentioning your brand on social media.

The Nobel Prize organization branded this video of Patti Smith signing Bob Dylan’s Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall with the hashtag #NobelPrize:

60.  Let people tell their stories

The best writing & marketing tells just enough to get people motivated to tell their own stories.  Fiction authors know this, and often leave out important details in a story to let readers form their own stories and meaning.  Do the same with your marketing: people had diverse reasons for #IWantAnR8, but the sentiment was the same.  Why they wanted one was the power of that marketing campaign (tactic #22).

61.  Domino’s #LetsDoLunch offered a discount for all customers

Domino’s UK ran a savvy hashtag promotion: for every customer who tweeted #LetsDoLunch within a specific timeframe, they took one pence off the price of a pizza. The resulting price went from £15.99 to £7.74 ($24.56 to 11.89), and everyone else ordering during that time got the discount too (including people who didn’t tweet). The key to success was a group effort and a sizable resulting discount.

62.  Know your reputation: #McDStories

Before you run a hashtag promotion, be clear on what your brand reputation is.  If you have too many negative stories for customers to tell, don’t encourage them. McDonalds asked people to share their #McDStories on Twitter, and the result was horror stories of disgusting food and terrible service.  What they had hoped to be a successful hashtag promotion turned into a bashtag fest.

63.  Use on SWAG giveaways

If your business gives away great SWAG, brand the items with a hashtag, motivating the lucky recipients to thank you publicly on social media.  You’ll likely see lots of photos and happy people with your giveaways.

64.  Identify your brand as local

Know the phrase, “all politics is local?” The same can be said for business: “all business is local.” Take advantage of your brick-and-mortar location by identifying your brand as local using a hashtag. If you’re traveling on business or doing a promotional tour, definitely use the hashtags for the cities you’ll be visiting.

What hashtags are a fit for your small business? Are you using them?

[ninja-popup ID=16864] Click HERE to download the full-size infographic[/ninja-popup]

Every small business has a tremendous opportunity to increase their visibility using the simple hashtag.

Go through this post again and identify which tactics best fit your business. You don’t have to completely change the way you market your brand; instead, simply start using a hashtag in your social media posts, visual content, and contests.

Use this infographic as a “to do list” of tactics, and experiment with a few to see which ones generate the most buzz and results for your brand. Don’t forget to let me know which ones worked for you, using the hashtag #hashtagprimer.

Share this #hashtagprimer Infographic On Your Site

my favorite business books
Jan 06

My Favorite 15+ Books for Small Business Owners

By Maria Peagler

my favorite business books

What’s the one thing profitable business owners have in common?

They’re lifelong learners.

After all, if you generate profits in your business year after year, you need to stay up-to-date on your industry, how business practices change, and how to stay current.

As an author, I’m a voracious reader, not only of fiction, but non-fiction business books. Today I’m sharing with you those business books that helped the bottom line of my business.

415-zyGlFSL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_1.  Less Doing More Living

Author: Ari Miesel

This book was one of my favorites of 2014. Written by a Ari Miesel, a business owner who has a debilitating disease and is the father of twins, who found a way to automate much of his business. I’m usually not a big fan of automation tactics, as they remove any personal touch your clients need from you. But Ari developed an online productivity system to automate much of the behind-the-scenes, freeing you up for the customer touchpoint tasks. I was able to save hundreds of hours and literally thousands of dollars by using his methods.  He has perfected the art of automating his business and his life so he can focus on the priorities needing most of his attention.

Favorite Highlight

“According to the 80/20 rule, I should be focusing on only the things that only I can do, like creating original content for the blog.  Everything else should be handled by someone else.”

41Qn40zaexL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_2.  The Checklist Manifesto

Author:  Atul Gawande

One of my favorite business books of all time.  I’ve recommended this book often and cannot emphasize enough how the process of creating a checklist helps me to document lengthy and complex processes and train my staff how to do them as well. Gwande shares examples of critical professions relying on checklists to avoid loss of life, such as architects, engineers and World Health Organization surgeons.

Favorite Highlight

“But finding a good idea is apparently not that hard.  Finding an entrepreneur who can execute a good idea is another matter entirely.  One needs a person who can take an idea from proposal to reality, work the long hours, build a team, handle the pressures and setbacks, manage technical and people problems alike, and stick with the effort for years on end without getting distracted or going insane.  Such people are rare and extremely hard to spot.”

download3.  Anything You Want

Author: Derek Sivers

A slim, yet invaluable book from Derek Sivers on his journey from being a music lover who coded a simple program to founder of CD Baby, selling it for over 21 million dollars.  What I love about this book is Derek’s candid story of ups and downs in his journey, and his advice on enjoying your own and not getting swallowed by sharks.  Derek has done multiple TED talks and is generous with his time, answering questions via email from readers on his website.  I asked him a question for my son about going into the music business, and we was kind and open with his advice.

Favorite Highlights

“Never forget absolutely everything you do is for your customers.  Make every decision – even decisions about whether to expand the business, raise money, or promote someone – according to what’s best for your customers.”

“It’s counterintuitive, but the best way to grow your business is to focus entirely on your existing customers: just thrill them, and they’ll tell everyone.”

51HtHc4sTvL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_4.  12 Week Year

Author: Brian Moran

I almost didn’t include this book in this year-end list because the author, Brian Moran, was decidedly curt when I reached out to him about an issue on his website.  However, I have gotten such tremendous results using this method I would be remiss in not mentioning it. Brian’s method recommends intense focus on a few goals over a 12-week period, even scoring yourself on your efforts and results.  I’ve been using his method for an entire year, and I can report I’ve gotten better results working with his method on my own than in hiring “experts” to tackle the same problem.

Favorite Highlight

“In 12 week planning, you identify the top one to three things that will have the greatest impact, and pursue those with intensity.”

515vWYjaFzL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_5.  The First 20 Hours

Author:  Josh Kaufman

A similar book to the 12 Week Year, but Josh Kaufman’s (The Personal MBA) focus is on mastering a skill in a short period of time – 20 hours to be exact.  What I loved about this book is similar to what Tim Ferriss does in his 4 Hour Chef: Josh recommends breaking down the skill set you need to learn and identifying the critical elements you need to master.

Favorite Highlight

“What feels like the long way is the shortest way. Zero-practice shortcuts don’t exist. No practice, no skill acquisition. It’s as simple as that.”

41Jl9XR0HqL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_6.  4 Hour Chef

Author: Tim Ferriss

As a gourmet cook, I didn’t read Tim Ferriss’ book to learn how to master cooking. Instead, I read it to learn how to “hack” learning, which is what Tim is REALLY teaching in this book, using cooking as the vehicle.  Tim figured out the key to quick learning early on working for Berlitz — the foreign language company — and applied those same tactics to other learning disciplines.  He distills the quick-learning principles to acronyms easy to remember like CAFE and DSSS, and these tactics help me learn quickly in an industry that changes daily.

Favorite Highlight

“The lowest volume, the lowest frequency, the fewest changes that get us our desired results is what I label minimum effective dose (MED). It’s a broad concept that applies to almost any field.”

41O9Zptxu7L._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_7.  168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think

Author: Laura Vanderkam

I interviewed Laura Vanderkahm on the blog here after reading her book about time management. I hesitate to call it a time management book, because I’ve decidedly eschewed those in favor of smarter approaches to life and how I choose to spend my time.  Laura’s book is an eye-opener into how much time we all REALLY have, how we spend it, and how there truly is enough time in the day to do everything you need and want.

Favorite Highlight

“Once you know what you want to do in the next year, you can break this down into what you want to do in the next month (120 – 240 hours) or week (24 – 26 hours). On Sunday nights, or before the start of your workweek, sit down and list the actionable tasks you need to do to advance you toward these goals. Then, this is the key part: schedule them in, knowing exactly how long they will take.”

download (1)8.  Delivering Happiness

Author: Tony Hsei

Tony claims this book is all about how Zappos delivers an over-the-top customer service experience.  I view it as the bible for anyone who wants to turn a boring business into a global brand that never competes on price. The shoe business was about as exciting as watching paint dry, until Tony turned it upside down with fun, great teamwork and amazing customer service.  A must read.

Favorite Highlight

“I realized that, whatever the vision was for any business, there was always a bigger vision that could make the table bigger. When Southwest Airlines first started, they didn’t see their target market as just limited to existing air travelers, which was what all other airlines did. Instead, they imaged their service as something that could potentially serve all the people who traveled by Greyhound bus or train, and they designed their business around that.”

51gn6AuFkNL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_9.  The Lean Startup

Author: Eric Ries

If you’ve heard the terms minimum viable product, pivot and lean, then you’ll understand the impact Eric Ries has had on the startup industry over the past five years.  Eric tells the story of how his failing tech business learned to stop guessing at what customers wanted and actually interacted with them and making tiny improvements along the way.

Favorite Highlight

“Success is not delivering a feature; success is learning how to solve the customer’s problem.”

10. Mastering Evernote

Author: Brandon Collins

I finally got on the Evernote bandwagon in 2012 and this small Kindle book helped me figure out how to customize my experience in Evernote.  As great a product as Evernote is, I never found it intuitive to use, which is why it took me so long to adopt it into my business toolkit.  This book finally got me using it like a pro.

Favorite Tip

Add most-used notes to the the shortcut bar so you don’t have to search for them repeatedly.

download (2)11.  Moonwalking with Einstein

Author: Joshua Foer


Not a business book per se, but a fascinating read at how regular people can develop super-memories. I’ve been able to pump up my own memory with these techniques, and help my son do so for college exams.  Not a how-to book, but a telling of one reporter’s story of covering the world memory championships, to challenging a participant to coach him in memory techniques, to winning the championship the next year. Truly a fun book to read.

Favorite Highlight

“The more we pack our lives with memories, the slower time seems to fly.”

51GWfhjxetL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-v3-big,TopRight,0,-55_SX278_SY278_PIkin4,BottomRight,1,22_AA300_SH20_OU01_12.  The Stupidly Simple Way to Backup

Author: Christian O. Schilling

An inexpensive Amazon Kindle book that has a smart strategy for backing up your life and business (and what you don’t need to backup): personal photos, application purchases, etc.  I’ve been days away from a book deadline when my home was struck by lightning, killing all the electronic equipment in the house.  My backup saved me!

Favorite Highlight

“I save all my application serial codes within my password application. If I ever need to install an application again, I just download it from the web and look up my password in 1Password (or LastPass).”

download (3)13. The Power of Visual Storytelling

Authors: Ekaterina Walter and Jessica Gioglio

2014 was the year of the image in marketing, and has forever raised the bar for our expectations of visual communication online. It’s no longer enough to have great content: it needs stunning visuals to accompany it, and Ekaterina Walter’s book talks about this phenomenon, how it has impacted business, and her favorite tools for creating images (even if you’re not a photographer or graphic designer).  Listen to my interview with Ekaterina here, then see case studies of small brands using visual storytelling here.

Favorite Highlight

 “. . . usage of visuals has resulted in a social media era that rewards creativity.”

download (4)14. Thinkertoys

Author: Michael Michalko

Michael is a genius at structuring creative exercises that get you thinking beyond the everyday. I’ve used his techniques to develop formats for my infographics, identify new features for my products and far more.

Favorite Technique

Lotus Blossom Diagramming

download (5)15.  The Ultimate Sales Machine

Author: Chet Holmes

Chet breaks down the sales process for people who don’t think they’re salespeople.  My favorite parts of his process are “pig-headed persistence,” identify your six to do’s everyday, and discovering the common characteristics among your perfect customers.

Favorite Highlight

“The key to being productive is to stick to the six most important things you need get done that day. “

illust-ebook16. Virtual Freedom

Author Chris Ducker

Chris owns a VA placement service, and often exaggerates what a VA can do in this book.  However, I appreciated much of his management and bonus strategies for VAs and have used them myself.

Favorite Highlight

“Request a list of the VA’s personal recommendations for your business. This could include potential products, ways to better serve your customers, or any tools or training that would help your VA do her job better.”

I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of my favorite books for small business owners.  What are your favorites? Add to this list in the comments below!

100 social media resources 2014 post
Dec 16

100+ Social Media Marketing Resources from 2014

By Admin Tester

100 social media resources 2014 post

Every week here at we give you a list of our most recent resources with our Weekly Top 5: your lessons, infographics, webinars, and articles. For the first time ever, we’ve gathered all those resources from this year into one GINORMOUS list for you, making it uber-easy to find what you need to grow your business using social media marketing.


Social Media Strategy

  1. My Social Media Presentations, Templates and Videos
  2. First 100 Days of 2013 Challenge: Creating a Social Media Action Plan
  3. Marketing Infographics on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Social Media Strategy & More
  4. The Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools for Small Business
  5. How to Automate Your Social Media Marketing: Webinar, Slide Deck, Audio & Infographic*
  6. Content Generation Infographic
  7. How to Give Thanks to Your Audience Using Social Media
  8. Where is Your Most Profitable Network Hiding?
  9. Social Media Engagement Swipe File
  10. How a Local Business Uses Social Media as Their ONLY Marketing
  11. How to Avoid Freebie Seekers in the Sharing Economy
  12. 7 Surprising Secrets I Learned from Beauty Vloggers
  13. What Millennials Need to Know About Social Media for Business
  14. Which Tool is Best for Scheduling Social Media Posts for Multiple Clients?*
  15. How to Write a Press Release That Doesn’t Get Ignored*
  16. How to Find Your Most Profitable Marketing
  17. How to Use Hashtags Across Social Networks*
  18. What You Need to Know BEFORE You Do Social Media Marketing in Europe
  19. How to Go on Vacation without Abandoning Your Business
  20. What’s New in Social Media: 3rd Quarter Round-Up
  21. How We Wecome You at SMOC (or How to Onboard Your Clients)
  22. Beyond Strategy: How’s Your Social Media Execution?
  23. Why Your Social Media Marketing Isn’t Generating Revenue
  24. How to Rebrand Yourself and Launch a New Career
  25. The One Thing You Should Do on Social Media Every Day
  26. Online Training for Different Learning Styles: Social Media Training
  27. The Learn Startup Approach to Education in America: Minimum Viable Education
  28. New Cheat Sheets in Your Swipe File
  29. Learn How to Build Your Own Stock Photo Library Using Your iPhone
  30. Most Popular Articles from the First Half of 2014
  31. Our Top Presentations — Get ‘Em Here!
  32. This Surprising Social Network Outperforms All Others*
  33. Want Us to Do Your Social Media?  We Do That!
  34. The State of Social Media for Small Business
  35. Great Hashtag Contest by YesToCarrots
  36. The Ultimate Guide to Social Media for Local Business
  37. How Can I Rebrand My Business?*
  38. What’s a Good Click-Through Percentage?*
  39. Small Business Websites Live or Die by These Reviews*
  40. How to Get Your Business in Front of 10,000 Visitors Every Month*
  41. Advice on Starting a Local Social Media Marketing Business**
  42. Unified Social Media Strategy: Content+Website+Social+SEO+Email
  43. Help! How Do I Market a Painful Business (Literally!)?*
  44. Redesigned Social Media Strategy Class: 2014 Edition
  45. Download Your Online Marketing Multi-Tool Bonus
  46. Have You Updated Your Marketing Strategy Yet?
  47. How to Use Infographics to Increase Your Search Engine Rank*
  48. Online Marketing Multi-Tool*
  49. Never Again Be at a Loss for Your Next Blog Post*
  50. Create Your Own Branded Images*
  51. Your First Online Store: Webinar, Audio, Slide Deck & Infographic
  52. 2014′s Best Social Media Marketing Infographics
  53. New Cheat Sheets in Your Swipe File
  54. What to Look for in Online Social Media Training
  55. How to Write a Blog Post in 10 Minutes Flat
  56. Press Release Template*
  57. How to Allow Visitors to Submit Blog Posts & Images to your Blog*
  58. How a #1 Local Business Monetizes Social Media Marketing
  59. Most Effective Way to Pitch a Guest Post to Top Bloggers*


  1. Facebook Marketing Infographic
  2. How to Reach More of Your Facebook Fans and Get Higher Engagement
  3. How Facebook Just Made Your Life Easier*
  4. How Often Should I Post to Facebook in 2014?*
  5. How to Get Double Duty from Every Facebook Post*
  6. What Facebook ISN’T Telling You About Its Latest Business Page Redesign
  7. HUGE Facebook News: Google Search Now Links to FB Posts Using Hashtags
  8. How to EASILY Increase Your Facebook Post Reach*
  9. How to Create a Facebook Timeline with a Clickable Button*
  10. New Timeline Design Goes LIVE this Week — Are You Ready?*
  11. Facebook 2014 Changes — What You Need to Know*
  12. Website Images Won’t Appear on Facebook Post Links*
  13. How to Find Which Apps You Have Installed on Facebook*
  14. Facebook Like Box *
  15. How to Boost a Post, Create an Ad Using FB Ad Manager*
  16. The Most Successful Small Business Advertiser on FB*
  17. Facebook’s Changes to Business Page Timelines & NewsFeeds*
  18. How to Stay on Top of Facebook’s Latest Changes*
  19. Facebook Changes 2014 Checklist *
  20. Five New Videos in Facebook 101*
  21. How Can I Ensure My Facebook Posts Are Seen by the Public?*
  22. How Do I Ask My FB Friends to Like My Page?*
  23. New Videos in Facebook 101*
  24. Contests & Fundraising on Facebook*
  25. Facebook Doesn’t Offer a Category for My Business?  What to Do?*
  26. Facebook 103 is Entirely New for 2014*
  27. How to Generate 1,200% ROI on a $50 Facebook Ad
  28. Easy Facebook Ads on a Budget
  29. Facebook Primer for Small Business*
  30.  Facebook Marketing Infographic*
  31. SMOC Forum Focus-Facebook


  1. How to Do a Blog Tour*
  2. How you can use Visual Content to Make your Marketing “Sticky” with your Audience
  3. Three Brands and How they use Visual Content in their Marketing
  4. Social Media Manager Learning Track
  5. Your First Online Store
  6. How to Find Your Target Market*
  7. Visual Storytelling: Video Case Studies
  8. Free Hootsuite How-To Video*
  9. How to Get More Sales from Your Website 1
  10. How to Create a Stock Photo Library
  11. How to Get More Sales from Your Website 2
  12. How to Get More Sales from Your Website 3
  13. Outsourcing Your Social Media Marketing*
  14. How to Brand & Watermark Your Images*
  15. How to Outsource Your Social Media*
  16. Social Media for Local Business*
  17. Content Marketing Made Simple*
  18. Member Website & Social Media Critique*
  19. Easy Facebook Ads on a Budget *
  20. 1:1 Coaching with Maria for SMOC Members*
  21. How to Get More Sales from Your Website 4


  1. What’s the Perfect Size for a Pinterest Pin?*
  2. Pinterest 101 – Updated to Newest User Interface Design*
  3. Profitable Pinterest Marketing
  4. Pinterest Contest Swipe File*
  5. How to Make a Pinterest Pin Go Viral Even before Your Website Launches*


  1. How a Brand Differentiates Themselves on Twitter
  2. How to Differentiate Your Brand on Twitter in Just 10 Seconds*
  3. The Difference Between Twitter’s Retweet Button and @RT*
  4. Twitter Image Size Cheat Sheet*

Google Plus

  1. Should I Use a Google+ Business or Personal Account for My Marketing?*
  2. Google+ Circles Impact on SEO*
  3. Should You Use Google+ for Business, Personal, or Both?*


  1. LinkedIn Sales Checklist Infographic: 5 Ways to Rock Your Profile & Generate Leads
  2. LinkedIn Master Tactic: Search a Colleague’s Contact List*
  3. LinkedIn Quietly Removes Activity Feed from Profiles*


  1. Instagram Marketing Infographic
  2. How to Make Photos from Followers are Visible on Instagram*
  3. Instagram 101 Debuts This Month!*


  1. How to Customize Your YouTube Channel with a Welcome Trailer*
  2. Multiple Businesses Need Multiple YouTube Channels?*


  1. WordPress 101 is all new for 2014*
  2. In Between Jobs & Learning WordPress?*


  1. How to Identify Your Most Profitable Keywords for SEO*
  2. SMOC Forum Focus-SEO


  1. Slideshare 101 is All New in Our “Chunked” 10-Minute-a-Day Format!*

* Indicates Members-Only Content

How to Crowdfund Your Next Project
Dec 09

How to Run a Successful Crowdfunding Campaign – Interview with Ebony Love, LoveBug Studios

By Maria Peagler

How to Crowdfund Your Next Project

Have you considered crowdfunding your next project?

If so, you definitely want to listen to today’s interview with Ebony Love, founder of LoveBug Studios. She ran a successful crowdfunding compaign that generated over 2X her goal (and she admits she had a few #fails along the way).

I was surprised at some of the revelations Ebony shared with me: I thought I understood crowdfunding, but the tactics she used (and those she didn’t) turned traditional advice on its head.

Crowdfunding with Ebony Love: Interview Audio

You can listen to the full 30-minute interview, or get bite-sized “tips” below:

Listen to the Full Interview with Ebony Love (30 min)

Bite-sized clips are below, each about 5 minutes in length. Click on the link to listen:

Members – Find out where the largest percentage of Ebony’s supporters came from, if she had help promoting her campaign, and her advice to others considering crowdfunding by logging in:  Click here to login!


Interview Transcript with Timestamps

0:00:00 MARIA: Welcome everyone this is Maria Peagler with And today I have with me Ebony Love the founder of LoveBug Studios and a successful Kickstarter campaign generator. Welcome, Ebony!

0:02:02 EBONY: Hi Maria. Thanks for having me.

0:02:05 MARIA: Absolutely, Ebony I have wanted to do this interview with you for a while because I was fascinated at the whole Kickstarter campaign that you did. I supported you. I contributed to your Kickstarter campaign. Can you tell our listeners out there a little bit about your campaign and your funding goal?

0:02:30 EBONY: Absolutely, Thank you so much Maria for supporting my campaign it really meant a lot to me to see your support there. When i initially started a campaign it was for a book about fabric die cutting and that particular topic is a very niche topic and there’s only a certain segment of the quilting community that’s going to be interested in something like that. Before I went to the expense and sort of going down the path of spending all this money investing in illustrators and graphic artists to solve these things. I wanted to make sure that there was actually a market to support this book that i was writing so part of this was market research a sort of test. We have to water a little bit and see if there was enough support for an idea like this to come out with a book for this particular niche. My initial funding goal was $5000 and when I put together my budget, when I thought about was. I’m willing to make an investment in this project and if other people are willing to invest with me as well then, I’m going to kick in some funding. My actual budget was about $10000 for the production of the book and so i set the campaign budget for half of that. If I can raise half the money I can kick in the other half and that would make it ok.

0:04:05 MARIA: Ok, so you came up with the budget of 10000 is like a fifty-fifty.50% you would be putting in and then 50% your contributors will be putting in. Now, what did you end up raising from your $5000 goal?

0:04:26 EBONY: I ended up raising just over $12000 for the project which it only took about 6 or 7 days to hit the $5000 mark and then the whole campaign went for about 30 days. So I was really elated to raise that amount of money so quickly the thing about Kickstarter is that when you set your campaign timeline you set it typically 30 days and even if you raise your target early the campaign doesn’t end it just keep going that’s how we went over the $5000 amount.

0:05:12 MARIA: How did you decide to use Kickstarter rather than someplace like Indiegogo. The reason I ask is because with Kickstarter for those who may not be familiar with it, with Kickstarter it’s an all or nothing thing if you don’t reach your goal or you don’t get to keep any of the contribution but on Indiegogo you don’t have to reach a goal you get to keep whatever you raise. And so, tell me how you decided on Kickstarter.

0:05:48 EBONY: Yes, both platforms when I’m just in this campaign back a couple of years ago both platforms are really really early on in there sort of introduction and the modelling. One thing about Indiegogo and I haven’t look in a while but at the time if you didn’t raise your campaign goal there actual cost to you was higher than if you hit your goal. So that was one factor, the other factor I thought to myself if I can’t get the support that I need to do this project then i really need to think very hard about whether or not i should go forward and take this, so it wasn’t just about raising a certain amount of money it was also making sure that I was able to garner enough support to go forward.

0:06:43 MARIA: Right, right, which was really smart to use Kickstarter as a market research tool because I know so many authors who just jump in they spend the money and then find out really that they didn’t know how to promote the book there is really know readership for the book and if they have done something like this beforehand they could have save themselves a lot of heartache.

0:07:06 EBONY: Yes, Absolutely!

0:07:08 MARIA: So let me ask you Ebony, It took you 30 days. The campaign was 30 days. How long did it take you to prepare for the campaign to actually get everything on Kickstarter get your video, get all that materials that you needed, how long did that take you?

0:07:29 EBONY: It took me probably about 3-4 weeks of planning part of that time Kickstarter had a pretty rigorous review process also so you couldn’t just put something out there and hit go and it just public they actually would go through and review your project to make sure it was appropriate for the platform the other component is writing the compelling copy. So I think in the media industry we call it romance copy. Writing that copy that’s really going to inspire and really reach the folks that I’m trying to reach and communicate my own passion and devising the reward that In and of itself I was racking my brain trying to think about what types of reward I mean obviously the book a copy of the book that’s pretty simple but in order to get people to sort of contribute that higher level i had to come up and really get creative with something and the thing about Kickstarter is when you offer a reward they have to be tangible reward it can’t be like a coupon for a future purchase for something like that it’s got to be something that people actually receive and it’s worth something at the time and it’s not some sort of “Hey if you don’t knit here I’ll contribute 10 dollars to charity. It has to be something that the backer get out of it. And i think i refer to it as investment but it’s really not an investment because you’re not yet shares

0:09:13 MARIA: Right, right

0:09:15 EBONY: But you should get something out of it. It’s not a donation when you contribute you’re getting something in return.

0:09:19 MARIA: And so, how crucial do you think to be the big prices were? That the prices they should offer and the levels that you offer, how crucial were those?

0:09:25 EBONY: I think that they were instrumental in helping the campaign go as far as it did. When I think about my entire network of people so just in my own personal network not everybody is a quilter not everybody is a die cutter so if all I offered was the die cutting book that’s not going to be of interest necessarily to everyone so there could be folks think: “You know what? I support what you do I’m really thrilled about this and I want to make sure it is successful but I really don’t need a coffee-table book.

0:10:13 MARIA:*laughs*

0:10:17 EBONY: The other piece two is by having different levels of contribution it gives people the opportunity to look and say “There’s a level here that I can afford. Because not everybody can just say here’s 30 bucks for a book that I’m not going to read. Some people may be able to contribute a dollar other people might say.”You know what I really support this artist, I know this person I feel good about what they’re doing, I can actually contribute a higher level so actually having those different reward level it gives you a choice i personally think i had too many and at the end of the day you’re the one who has to actually fulfill all those rewards.

0:11:04 MARIA:*laughs* Right.

0:11:08 EBONY:*laughs*After a while but i think having at least 3 or 4 options gives people sort of a way to contribute at a level there comfortable with.

0:11:18 MARIA: And so you had levels from a dollar all the way up to 1500 dollars and what was your most popular level?

0:11:29 EBONY: My most popular level I believe was at the 50 dollar level you’ve got a copy of the book and some other little trinket so I think my average donation across the board was about 46 dollars so some people came in lower than that, some people came in higher than that but most people were right in middle of a reward.

0:12:00 MARIA: I’m looking at your Kickstarter site right now and it looks like you had a 104 backers at 30 dollars. Now, do you think it was the dollar amount? Do you think it was just the right amount? Or do you think it was the acknowledgement that they’ve got in getting the book as the reward?

0:12:22 EBONY: I think so, I think most of the people who purchased at that level were once who wanted the book. They were rolling to get that book so it was a way for them and what’s interesting when you structure your reward, is it’s not necessarily meant to be a like discount of a retail price although some that way it’s actually meant to be because you do need feed bonds so the book actually retails for 30 dollars so that was like the level. I think that level people were going to buy the book anyway when it came out and that’s the level that they supported.

0:13:09 MARIA: Okay, And what did you do to promote the campaign as far as social media and email marketing and get the word out, What did you do to promote it ?

0:13:22 EBONY: so I actually did a several tiers of marketing and I didn’t want to bombard my network with you know just post after post after post of this particular campaign. The first method that Senel was just a family and close friends just to first get started with the toe on the water and also when you put it out to just friends and family you tend to get kind of that bubble of will support anything that you do and that makes you feel better. You feel better about what you’re doing to get some of that initial push and then I put it up on Facebook to wider the audience which will include my friends and friends of friends and hope to unnecessarily no personally but we’re friends on Facebook and that’s the next level campaign and some of those folks even shared my campaign with their friends and that’s another way to get to expanse. The third way was just through my newsletter list so I have an email list for my business where I send out announcement about where I’m going to be and what’s going on with my business and where you can see me that went to my email list. I also posted on my blog talking about the Kickstarter campaign and what it meant and what I was trying to do. I have several avenue to pursue but I didn’t do them all at once. I didn’t’ post everywhere on the same day. I spread it out over probably a week to 10 day period to reach all those audiences.

0:15:13 MARIA: Ok, and do you have any idea of which promotion garnered the most support?

0:15:22 EBONY: I believe it was probably the Iddy mount campaign just because there were thousands of people on my email list versus a couple of dozens on my Facebook page.

0:15:39 MARIA: So you have an email marketing list with several thousand contacts on?

0:15:47 EBONY: Yes. I think it’s the time I probably had under a thousand people subscribe to my email list. Now it certainly grown as my name has gotten out there but I think it’s the time it was under a thousand people on my email list but it was certainly a lot bigger of an audience than on my Facebook page.

Exclusive Members-Only Lessons

Members – Find out where the largest percentage of Ebony’s supporters came from, if she had help promoting her campaign, and her advice to others considering crowdfunding by logging in:  Click here to login!

Not a member? Start learning today by becoming a Socialmediaonlineclasses member. Get started below:

Your Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools
Dec 02

The Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools for Small Business

By Maria Peagler

Your Ultimate Guide to Productivity Tools

Ever wish you could clone yourself to get more done?

We’re all striving to accomplish more with less resources in the 21st century, and that’s especially true if you’re a solopreneur or small brand. I’ve made it my mission to keep my business (and my training) as simple and elegant as possible. That makes it easier for me to develop and advance a thriving business while also being a wife to an entrepreneur and involved mom to two teenage sons.

My secret?

Awesome tools. And a hack I’ll show you in a moment (saving me HOURS of time each week and thousands of dollars I don’t have to spend on labor that I can invest in my business).

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a tool junkie (you know — those people who are ALWAYS touting the latest app they’ve downloaded and can’t wait to tell you about it). I don’t have time for that.

Instead, I invest in the best tools that make it possible to run an agile business I love and allow me to enjoy a full life outside of work.

So today I’m sharing with you my favorite tools I use on a DAILY basis and WHY I think they’re the best at what they offer.

Google Apps for Business

The paid version of Gmail, Google Drive, Docs and more. This is a huge switch for me, as I made a lucrative career from being a technical writer of books on Microsoft and other Windows’ products. Five years ago I purchased a Mac (because it just works, period) and didn’t want to pay for the Office Suite, so I started using Google Docs instead.

Google’s suite of products is nowhere near as robust as the Office suite, so if you need deep features like long documents and tables of contents in your word processor, stick with Word. But for what I do, which is mostly tables, presentations, and simple PDFs, Google Docs works great.

I’ve become an enormous fan of using Google Sheets for applications far beyond financials — planning, dashboards, and libraries of data I keep in a spreadsheet. It’s so simple to create a worksheet with multiple sheets and keep track of goals, reports, and content libraries within one file.

But why the paid version?

In May of this year, my email address was blacklisted as a spammer due to my hosting company sharing my virtual private server (VPS) with another company that was identified as sending SPAM email. The only way to fix the situation was to enroll in Google Apps for Business and use the paid version of their Gmail. That way, I would never again have to worry about my email being listed as SPAM.

The best part of using Google Apps for Business? Google support. Yes, really! Once you are a paying client, Google provides the BEST support I’ve ever encountered.

Related resources: How to Combine Social Media and Email Marketing to Capture Leads You’re Missing

Not surprising, since I teach a class on how to create your website using WordPress, but my love of this platform goes far beyond just being able to create a simple website with it.

When I started, I researched the most popular learning management systems (LMS) at the time, which were Moodle and Blackboard. I found them to be bloated, cumbersome, and better suited for enterprise organizations and institutions.

I also tried BuddyPress, which has a social network feature built into it, but found it to be unstable and not as well-supported as WordPress.

So why do I love WordPress so much? It allows me to:

  • create a simple website I can modify without being a developer
  • add a blog to my website that has the same look and feel as my website
  • create an online training site by adapting WordPress posts, pages, categories and shortcodes into an agile learning system I can change as my needs evolve
  • find answers to common WordPress problems because it has a global network of users who have encountered the same issues
  • easily hire developers and designers who have worked on WordPress and have deep experience with it
  • easily train interns and new hires on how we use WordPress because they likely already have experience with it
WordPress 101 Learn how to build your own blog/website — no coding required
Members-Only Content
Login to access this learning track


Wishlist Member WordPress Plugin

Wishlist Member (WLM) is a WordPress plugin allowing me to make my paid classes private. It’s categorized as a membership site plugin, but you can do much more with it than that.

WLM was not the first solution I tried (BuddyPress, S2Member, WPDev Member), but it’s the ONLY one that worked consistently, was stable, and well-supported.

They also have a companion membership program called Wishlist Insider I belonged to for a year to learn how others used it, network with WLM users, and get up-to-speed quickly to get the type of online training site I wanted.

Newer membership site plugins are available now, but I plan to stick with WLM. They offer a one-time price (vs. monthly for the newer plugins) and I don’t want to have to learn a new system and transition my members to it. I’ve found a solution that works for me and allows me to stay agile and robust in my offering.

Trello Project Management

Trello is an online project management system I absolutely love (and its cute dog mascot Taco).

I’ve tried BaseCamp, Asana, and even developed a class on Harvard Project Manager years ago. Most project management tools are needlessly complex and dull to use. The beauty of Trello is in its simplicity: it has a Pinterest-like interface, using cards, and you can organize your projects in any way that suits your business and working style.

It has few restrictions on how you setup your projects: that freedom allows you to make your Trello system truly your own.  You use Organizations, Boards, Lists, and Cards to create your projects and invite team members. You can add links, images, video, and text formatting to your projects to make them multimedia-rich.

We use Trello for our in-house training and orientation, our editorial calendar, ongoing projects, social media services clients, and website development projects. I can assign dates to projects, communicate with and tag team members about projects and see a calendar view of our editorial calendar to see what’s coming up next.

Aweber Email Marketing

The first thing I did in my business, before I ever had a website, was invest in email marketing software. I started out using iContact, but have since transitioned to Aweber for the segmentation features (I can send automatic emails to my audience depending upon what their interests are).

I had used ConstantContact for clients and didn’t like its user interface, and wasn’t interested in free so never tried MailChimp. I wanted a tool I could use immediately and start seeing ROI.  I loved iContact’s simplicity and great support, and appreciate Aweber’s terrific support as well.

Aweber has a steeper learning curve than other email marketing applications, but that’s the trade-off for more features, and I’m happy to pay it.

I use Aweber for sending out our weekly newsletter and sending automatic follow-up emails to people taking our free social media strategy class. I love the reporting I get: I can immediately identify what topics are most popular, what people are clicking on and what they open.

Snagit and Voila Screen Capture Tools

I use screen capture tools daily in developing and updating our training classes, building our Swipe File to show members examples of brands doing social media well, providing customer support, communicating with my team members, when we have technical challenges and are communicating with support teams, and far more.

When it comes to training, a picture really is worth a thousand words, and members love seeing an informative image rather than have to sit through a video.

I used TechSmith’s Snagit for years and found it to be the best screen capture tool available. However, when I upgraded to Mavericks operating system and to the latest version of Snagit, it slowed my computer to a crawl. So I transitioned to Voila, a Mac-based screen capture tool. It doesn’t have as many annotation and editing features as Snagit, but it takes advantage of the Mac operating system, allowing me to drag and drop images into almost any application.


Swipe File "Steal" these tactics from successful brands for your own business
Members-Only Content
Login to access this learning track



For a long time I just didn’t get why so many people were fanatical about Evernote. Sure, it was a great note-taking app and you could do a lot more with it, but I hadn’t really investigated all of its features.

I became hooked for personal reasons: I was researching a family trip we were taking to Washington D.C., and saved our hotel, tour reservations, itineraries and more to Evernote, and it was available on my smartphone while we were traveling. I could research a museum and capture a screen listing its hours/directions, and that screen capture would be available on my phone.

I now use Evernote for my business: writing my daily To-Do list, saving articles I want to refer to later, outlining large projects, and so much more.

The Productivity Hack That Saves Me Hours Each Week

The best part of using these applications? They can work together in automating much of my business. I can set up tasks to be automated, saving me time, and my virtual assistant can work on far more productive projects.

This hack allows me to practically clone myself for far greater productivity.

Some of the tasks I automate:

  • Dictating the foundation for a blog post into my smartphone and saving it to Evernote
  • Creating a content library by building a list of our blog posts and their URLs in a Google spreadsheet
  • Automatically uploading a video to YouTube, which in turn creates a blog post draft in WordPress
  • Creating a spreadsheet of my latest Twitter followers, their bios and follower counts
  • and much, much more

I set up these tasks just once, and they run automatically as necessary. My virtual assistant doesn’t have to spend her time on these items, so I can have her generating important reports and focusing on customer service (tasks that require the human touch to really do well).

How do I automate these tasks? Stay tuned: tomorrow’s post will give you the details!