Showing posts with label Constant Contact. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Constant Contact. Show all posts

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

My Favorite Tools for Resume Writers

I was talking about one of my favorite tools for with some of my resume writing colleagues, 
and I thought I’d share them in a blog post.

Focus/Productivity: NOISLI

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a harder time focusing these days. My attention span isn’t what it once was, and there are so many distractions!

When I need to write — whether that’s a client resume, Pass-Along Materials for BeAResumeWriter.com, or even this blog post, I pull up Noisli on my computer. (They also have an app.) There is a free level of the service that gets you 90 minutes of free listening a day. I’m seriously considering upgrading to the paid service (unlimited) for $10/month (billed annually).

You can customize your sounds — whether for productivity (like I use it) or for relaxation. You can select the sounds you want to include, mixing and matching them according to your personal taste. I usually start with the default “Productivity” mix and then add in some thunder (because I *love* the sound of thunder). Today, I added in some “campfire” to get a little crackling in there too.

Cost: Free for up to 90 minutes a day; $10/month (billed annually)

Learn more here.



Client Management/Document Management: Evernote

I’ve talked before about how I use Evernote with my client files. When I talk with a prospect by phone or by email or LinkedIn message, I start a note with their name. That way, I'm able to keep all of my notes about them together in one place. As I start to collect their documents (old resumes, questionnaires, exercises), I attach them to the note. That way, everything is accessible to me, no matter where I am. (These days, that’s usually at home, but you never know!) And, once I create their new documents, I attach the files to the note. I also include a copy of their invoice, so I can see what work I’ve done for them, and what I charged them. The next time they come back for service, I can pull up the note and see exactly what I’ve done and when. You can also set reminders in Evernote for a specific date/time. This allows me to do follow-up with clients a month down the road and then a year later too (for updates). 

If you’re on a paid plan for Evernote, you can also scan in notes or upload copies of handwritten notes and the text will be searchable. I still like to take handwritten notes when attending webinars and this keeps me from having to re-type my notes. (Although sometimes I do that just to help me remember stuff!)

With the Premium plan, you can even search inside Microsoft Word docs. This has saved me a number of times when I can't remember a client's name, but I remember their job title or company name. It pulls up the matching options and that’s enough to help me find what I’m looking for.

The Evernote app icon is an elephant — because “an elephant never forgets” — and that’s exactly what Evernote does for me. I use it for my daily to-do list, ongoing projects, I have a note with my affiliate links (so I can just copy-and-paste), my shopping list, and even the list of TV shows Jon and I are currently watching (including what season/episode we’re on) and shows and movies we want to watch next.

You can get a free month of Evernote premium using my affiliate link: http://bit.ly/RWDLovesEvernote

Cost: Free level provides basic functionality, but the Premium level ($7.99/month) allows you to sync across multiple devices (I have it on my iPhone, iPad, and laptop), upload all the types of client information I mentioned earlier, and search within notes.

Learn more here.




Accounting/Finances — QuickBooks Online

Okay, just to be upfront about it — I *hate* accounting, bookkeeping, and taxes. It’s ironic, I know, since my parents met when they both worked for the Internal Revenue Service, and because I was runner-up Ms. Future Business Leader for the state of Nebraska my senior year in high school. 

One of the things I hate(d* - past tense!) most about tax time was putting together my files for my accountant. We had been using QuickBooks (the Mac desktop version) since we started the business in 1996, but I always had to manually bring in my PayPal data at the end of the year, and spend days tagging and reconciling the transactions.

So when my accountant said I had to switch to QuickBooks online this year, I was more than reluctant. 

But you know what? I actually *enjoy* doing my bookkeeping now — and, more important, I’ve actually kept up with it. So 2021 might be the first year I get my accountant our data in January. (And actually, I don’t have to send him anything related to the business — he has access to my QuickBooks information from an accountant portal built into my subscription.) 

Here’s my favorite part: It brings in my business checking account data and PayPal data automatically once a day. Then, I go in and categorize the transactions. It has built-in “rules,” so some transactions it automatically categorizes (and I just click “Add” to approve it). That’s great for my recurring monthly payments (like Evernote, above). Honestly, it’s like a little game every time I log into categorize them (which I do 3-4 times a week). It takes me like 5 minutes. It’s almost fun!

I also do all my client invoicing through it (although I don’t have it set up with the built-in merchant account, since I use Affinipay for processing credit/debit cards). But you could do that if you wanted. I can email invoices through QuickBooks, and the reports it creates are interesting. But honestly, I just use the “Dashboard” feature more than anything. That shows me a quick P&L (profit & loss) graphic for the past 12 months, a widget with my expenses over the last 30 days, my annual sales for the last 12 months, and a daily accounting of my bank balances for all linked accounts. I may be more aware of the financial health of my business than I have ever been in the last 24 years we’ve been in business!

I‘m not sure if we’re on the Essentials or Plus plan, because I pay my accounting firm directly ($30/month – so it’s either the Essentials plan with some built-in support from the accounting firm, or I’m getting a discount on the Plus plan). Who knows. It’s totally worth it.



Email List Management — Constant Contact

This one is a little tougher, because there are SO many email management programs out there, and the one I’m recommending isn’t the cheapest, nor does it have the most features. But it’s the easiest one to get started using, and therefore, it’s the one that I recommend for career industry colleagues to start with.

Constant Contact offers more than just email though. You can actually create a website through them, and even host an online store that you can sell digital downloads through. You can also use Constant Contact to offer coupons and promotions, run surveys, and even host and promote events. (All of these are additional, add-on services.)

But for basic email functionality, Constant Contact is perfect for the solopreneur. You can offer an email signup form on your website, using a QR code, “text to join,” and more. Once you get people in, you can segment them to different email lists, and even set up an onboarding campaign of welcome emails. They offer tons of cute templates you can customize, including a built-in library of free (and, optionally, paid) graphics to include.

Cost: $20/month+ (cost depends on list size).

You can get a free trial using this link.



Online Courses/Coaching Platform — Teachable

Online learning is exploding. And jobseekers sometimes want to learn about the job search but not pay your $100-$150/hour one-to-one fees. The solution: Online courses. You can provide transformative content that educates and informs your clients on their own time. Or offer live training on specific topics at specific times. Or offer coaching services using their integrated platform.

The basic plan, at $29/month, includes unlimited students for courses and coaching (but paid courses and coaching will have a small transaction fee for each purchase). You can set up live courses, courses that clients get access to all at once, or even drip courses (where content is released on a pre-determined schedule – or “dripped” to users). 

The possibilities are endless: LinkedIn training for the job search, job search strategies, how to use your resume, how to create your personal brand, and more. I’m looking at offering my jobseeker challenges on Teachable too.

Cost: $29/month for the Basic Plan (annual billing) or $99/month for the Pro plan (this is the plan I use)

Learn more here.



Membership Platform — Wild Apricot

I am a HUGE proponent of membership systems for creating recurring revenue from your clients. And I’ve said that the resume writer who comes up with a system for turning their one-off clients into members will transform the industry. But it hasn’t happened yet.

What has happened is resume writers creating private libraries of content for their clients to access and using membership systems to do that. And resume writers using Wild Apricot to create private client portals where clients can access their files indefinitely. And resume writers offering fixed-term membership programs to provide client training. (Although since I’ve started using Teachable, I’d recommend going that route for a FTM instead of a landing-page-plus-autoresponder membership program). 

If I were starting my resume business today, I’d use Wild Apricot as my website and client platform. You can create a responsive, mobile-friendly website (using WYSIWYG website building tools – What You See Is What You Get). There’s an online “store” that you can use to promote package bundles (resume+cover letter, resume+cover letter+LinkedIn, resume+LinkedIn, resume+coaching, etc.). You can create membership levels, so you could create membership levels where clients could get access to a library of content (using Pass-Along Materials to create custom, branded job search information and tools) and maybe even an annual resume update (at a higher membership fee, obviously). 

And, as previously mentioned, you can create individual client portals with password-protected download pages for client documents. And, because it includes a built-in email management system, you can use it to deliver a monthly client newsletter. And, you can get set up with Affinipay as your merchant service processor, which allows you to bill clients for a monthly or annual membership.

Cost: $40/month for up to 100 contacts; $50/month for up to 250 contacts. 

Learn more here.


The tools included are just a few of my favorites. I’d love to hear what you’re using (and loving). Post your favorites in the comments below.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Q&A: Starting an Email List

I like to answer questions from my tribe! In today's blog post, I respond to a reader who has a question about starting an email list.

Question:

I've been doing some Internet research regarding email marketing. MailChimp says I have to ask permission before I send email marketing. How do I do that? (I'm not using them - I'm going to do it myself) Do I send a first email saying in the subject line: "Asking permission to email monthly newsletter - NO email marketing service used"?

Another question: It has been suggested that I put a privacy policy right up front. Is the following enough? 

Privacy policy: I am not using an email marketing service - I am distributing the monthly email newsletter myself. There will be complete confidentiality. Your email will not be given to anyone. Please let me know if you're interested in receiving it. Below is what you will see.


Answer:
I'm thrilled you want to start using email to market/communicate! It's one of the most valuable tools you can use to generate repeat business, referrals and even new clients!

You want to get people to opt-in to your email. I believe you actually SHOULD be using an email marketing service -- doing it yourself (i.e., copy-and-pasting email addresses into a BCC list) has two major disadvantages: 

  1. lower deliverability of email messages (some email systems associate the BCC method with spam and will block messages from you -- not just the bulk ones, but they'll "blacklist" your email address and when you try to individually email these clients later, the message may not get through. 
  2. You won't know who opened your email messages. All email marketing systems track "open rates" -- and while they're not infallible (people have to either click a link in the email or click "load images" to be registered as an "open,"), knowing which of your messages are enticing people to read them is valuable information. (Imagine if our clients could send their resumes this way, and they'd know if their resumes were actually being "opened" and read! I'm sure that day is coming! *smile*)

Okay, back to opting in. The best way to do this is to invite people to JOIN your email list. But it's not like the old days (5-10 years ago), when you could say, "Sign up to get my email newsletter!" and people would join it. No, people want valuable information in exchange for giving up their email address, and a "monthly newsletter" isn't enough of a draw. The easiest way to get them to sign up is by giving them a valuable special report. A lot of my BeAResumeWriter.com Bronze members adapt their Pass-Along Materials for this purpose. Another advantage of using an email service is that it automates the opt-in and delivery of the freebie. 

YES, you can send an email to each of your current clients, but I wouldn't use the subject line "Asking permission to email monthly newsletter." Instead, I'd tailor it to your bonus. For example: "Follow-up to resume services: Making more in your next job." This one-to-one email can be sent to each of your clients you've worked with (and, on an ongoing basis, to each client you work with in the future, after you send their resume documents). The email would have a link to opt-in to the email list AND when they sign up, it AUTOMATICALLY sends them the link to download the special report. (And they're added to your email list.) That's the basis of permission-based marketing.

If you want to use your email list to generate prospects (not just communicate with existing clients), you can also add the opt-in box to your website and social media profiles. You use it the same way -- you offer a valuable opt-in incentive (it can even be a DIFFERENT one for prospective clients vs. existing clients!) and you put an opt-in box on your website, blog, Facebook business page, etc. to get people to opt-in to receive it (and thus be on your email list). Most of the email marketing services will also include tools that allow you to spread the word about getting on your list (including "forward this email" buttons and links to your social media profile tools).

Many of the services also allow you to upload lists but ONLY do this if you have the permission of the people to add them! For example, if you have a booth at a job fair, you can offer to send them your salary negotiation guide if they put their name/email on your sign-up sheet. Then, you can enter those names into your email service database manually and it will both send them the guide AND add them to your email list.

As for WHAT to send to folks once they're on your list, make sure you follow the 80/20 rule. Eighty percent of your content should be valuable career-related information (without sales tactics) and 20% can be promotions/advertising -- whether that's for your own services or affiliate products/services. You want people to STAY on your list, so make sure you're communicating with them REGULARLY (at least once a month) and giving them valuable information.

But that brings me to reason #3 to use an email marketing service: automatic unsubscribes. The #1 rule you need to follow in email marketing is actually a LAW -- the CAN-SPAM Act defines email marketing. If someone asks to be taken off your list, you need to do that. And it's easier to allow them to unsubscribe themselves (ALL email marketing programs have this option built-in to each message you send) than to manage getting the replies to you one by one by one. Here's the CAN-SPAM Act guidelines:

The #4 reason to use an email marketing service is they offer you pretty templates you can customize when sending the information. Instead of a plain email message, you can incorporate a "theme" template -- customizing the colors and fonts to match your business logo/colors. Once you set up this template, you can use it over and over again, making it easy to send your monthly messages. 

All in all, email marketing services offer some major advantages over sending messages yourself. And frankly, most people don't actually MIND that you're using an email marketing service to manage your list. The messages look more professional, getting on and off the list are easy, and they still can be personalized (you can set up your messages so they drop in the recipient's first name in the subject line or in the body of the message itself).

And they're not too expensive. (EVERY resume writer I've worked with on this has said their list pays for itself in terms of repeat business, referrals, affiliate products/services sold, and new business generated, if they follow the guidelines I've outlined here). The cost can be as little as $5/month, but the average is $20/month. I personally pay about $50/month for mine, and it's TOTALLY worth it.

I use (and recommend) these three email marketing services -- I've included pluses and minuses, and my affiliate links for each:

VerticalResponse. Offers a pay-as-you-go option (you can pay for email "credits" to start out, instead of a flat monthly rate -- although you can change to a monthly subscription at any time), so it's very affordable to get started. VR offers some basic templates; but does not include free graphics. It can host your sign-up form for you too. Setup difficulty level: Medium
http://www.kqzyfj.com/click-5727729-10683714

Constant Contact. One of the most popular services. A little more pricey than other options, but offers a TON of templates and lots of free graphics (plus access to paid stock photography services). Good sign-up tools for getting people on your list -- integrates with your Facebook page easily to provide a sign-up form. Also offers other services: survey tool, event management/sign-up tool, and a Groupon-like service. Offers a free trial for new customers. Setup difficulty level: Easy

AWeber. This one requires more technical proficiency than the other two, but offers a way for you to provide both single email messages AND email "courses" to prospective clients or current/past clients using autoresponders. I use it to deliver both free AND paid programs -- you can set up a series of email messages that are delivered automatically -- for example, my Leveraging LinkedIn class is 8 email lessons delivered once a day for 8 consecutive days. I set it up once in AWeber and people can subscribe to the "course" and the messages are delivered to them automatically. It also offers great opt-in forms -- giving you the code to put on your own page or AWeber will even "host" the form for you. Setup difficulty level: Harder

Why don't I recommend Mailchimp? Mainly because of email deliverability rates. Because Mailchimp offers a free level of service, their OVERALL email deliverability rates are lower, because some email service providers block ALL Mailchimp messages because some people use the free service irresponsibly. (Because there is no cost, it's used quite a bit by folks selling multilevel marketing products or low-cost services/products). I prefer using a paid service that monitors its members and makes sure they are following the rules (not just adding their entire email list to their account and sending messages without permission).

As for the privacy policy, YES, it's fine to include it, but it does NOT need to be the first thing in the message (nor will that help you entice people to subscribe and/or stay on your list). The #1 way to build trust with your list is to SHOW, not TELL. It's not enough to say that you won't share or use their email without permission -- SHOW that. Do NOT add send "bulk" emails to people unless they've requested to be added to your list (by opting in to receive your freebie). It's fine to send ONE email message to people you currently work with (or have worked with in the past) to ask if they want to receive your freebie, but don't just ADD them to the list. People hate that. :-)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Create an Opt-In Incentive for Resume Prospects On Your Website in Under an Hour

Right now, I'm running a Challenge for Bronze members of BeAResumeWriter.com -- and one of the projects (As outlined in my Dead Week post) is to create an opt-in incentive for visitors to your website.

It's a great idea to collect the email addresses of resume prospects, because it allows you to develop a relationship with them -- and the best way to get their email address is to provide them with an opt-in incentive (an immediate gift they receive for providing their email address).


Here's my step-by-step for it:

1. Pick one of the PAMs to use.

2. Re-name it. (Here's a free tool-- click on the FREE WIZARDS tab -- to help inspire you!)

3. Order a cover on Fiverr.com (it's $5.50) (if you're new to Fiverr, your first Gig is free using my affiliate link: https://www.fiverr.com/s/6hjwbp). I use Vikiana for my cover designs, but there are others on there. She's currently working 5 days out, so you might pick one that delivers in 2-3 days if you want to get finished faster!

4. Edit and format the PAM content. Insert the cover design (flat image) on page 1. Create a title page with your contact information (you can copy the format in my Special Reports, or just open the nearest book and use that format). Change the font. Add footers. Add design elements, if you'd like. (I recommend graphics from Fotolia.)

5. Save as a PDF.

It takes me about 45 minutes to create one, start to finish (not including waiting time for the Fiverr cover ...)

Then, set up an email list contact form and autoresponder to deliver the report.
This is easy to do in Constant Contact or AWeber.



Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why Resume Writers Need an Email List

Recently on several of the resume writing association E-Lists, there have been numerous resume writers talking about being in a business drought. Several colleagues have said that July and August have been their slowest months in years.

I have a solution for resume writers who want to dip into a well of prospects and clients and generate a flood of new projects and referrals: Like author Harvey Mackey says, "Dig Your Well Before You're Thirsty" … and create an email list.

I've been talking about the value of an email list for years now. It's a must-have for resume writers who want to sell information products, recruit participants to online programs (teleseminars and webinars), and sign clients up for fixed-term membership programs. And you don't need a huge list — even 100 subscribers can generate a trickle of revenue … and that will just continue to grow as your list grows.


Why You Need an Email List 
According to Wikipedia.org, an email list is "... a special usage of email that allows for widespread distribution of information to many Internet users..." Pay attention to the words "special usage" because that is important. 

This special usage requires three things from you, namely:
  • Special Software 
  • Knowledge of Laws 
  • Something to Share 

The software can be an online system such as AWeber or Constant Contact — two very inexpensive, easy-to-use options. The laws you need to know about are primarily the CAN-SPAM Act. And the "something to share" is best known as the sign-up incentive — something you give to your site visitor in exchange for his or her email address and permission to contact them.

But this blog post is about why you need an email list. The definition also gives you a clue into that aspect of an email list. It answers the why by telling you that an email list is for "...widespread distribution of information to many... ". This means that it's a super simple way to get out your information to the masses. Your information being the information you want to give your target audience about your business products and services. 

So the short answer to why you need an email list is obvious: In order to distribute information about your business to many people. It's a simple way to do it with the right software. Online software enables you to set up simple sign up forms on your website, blog, or even Facebook page so that people can enter their email address, giving you permission to send them information about your business products and services.

The software immediately sends a thank you email, with confirmation process so that you know for sure you really have permission from the person. This is called "double opt-in." This is required because it ensures that the right person really did enter the right email address and really did mean to receive the information. This process prevents you of being accused of sending out spam to people, and ensures that you get people on your list who really want to be on it. After all, you really only want to market to the right people.

The software also enables the person who signed up to easily unsubscribe with a simple click. This unsubscribe information appears automatically in every email that you send from the system. (This is a requirement of the CAN-SPAM Act.) This makes the entire process super efficient. In some cases the software will also clear out bounced email addresses and you can manually clean out email addresses which have not opened email for a specific amount of time. The software makes the entire process simple, giving you no excuse not to have an email list.

With a properly set up email list you will be able to regularly market your products and services to an audience who has given you permission, who wants what you have to offer, and who already trusts and likes you. You want this because most people need to see your offers at least 7 times before they decide to purchase. By having them on your email list, you increase your opportunity to make a sale many times over. You may have heard people say, "the money is in the list." Let me tell you, the money IS in the list. They're not joking.

No matter how big social media becomes, having that direct email address route is always going to be better. It's tried, true, and well tested. Every business now asks for your email address because they want to use one of the best marketing formats ever invented. Email. If you treat your subscribers right, and give them the regular information they asked for you'll create a lot of success via your email list. 

Want to learn more about email marketing? Download this free checklist:



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