Automation 101 (aka the Secret Sauce of Productivity)

You know something that people who are really killing it in the blog world have that the average blogger doesn’t?  Assistants.  Like, real life people on their payroll.  It’s nice to have the money to be able to have people on a payroll...BUT...all that you may know about a payroll is that you are on someone else's.  Well you know what?  You don’t have to have a payroll to have an assistant, boo!  Trust me.  I have an assistant that has been getting the job DONE on time and at high levels for free.  They’ve stepped in when I was working and didn't have the ability to tweet or promote my blog posts on Pinterest or simply find new content to blog about.  Would you like an introduction?  My assistant is on my calendar under the name BAE (Blogging Assistant Extraordinaire), and is a robot.  Yep, my assistant is AUTOMATION.  If you don’t already, you should insert a robot into your blogging process.  I’m not talking about one of those annoying bots that likes Instagram photos and follows accounts with the intention to unfollow in a few days (I actually hate those bots and don’t encourage anyone to use them...I know it’s tempting but don’t do it).  I’m talking about a robot that can do things on your behalf when you already have too much on your plate.  My blog is geared towards people that have a day job and are trying to build their blog/business at the same time.  If this is you, you already know that free time sounds like a joke.  That’s why it’s CRUCIAL to use automation in your day to day strategy.  Today I will be discussing automation and why you need to get it in your life...like right now!

 

Let’s be real here, extra money to pay an assistant is probably not available yet because...well, bills, kids, Sallie Mae, being underpaid at your 9-5, etc.  I always say that until you have that extra money coming in, automation is your assistant.

So what exactly is automation?

My Dictionary app says that automation is "the technique, method, or system of operating or controlling a process by highly automatic means, as by electronic devices, reducing human intervention to a minimum".  Great, well in my terms, automation is something getting done without you having to remember to do it (set it and forget it) or for those times when you literally can’t even.  You basically create a task that will run at a scheduled time and it will do what you want without you having to be there to babysit.

I talk about automation...A LOT… on my blog and social media because people don’t realize just how important it is to use when you haven’t the means (read: coins) for a real assistant (virtual, in person, temporary via fiverr, whatever).  You can’t do it all alone, trust me.  BUT you can automate a big chunk.  You may be wondering why it’s so important?  Simply put...you actually will be able to have free time.  I know that sounds unrealistic, but I’m living proof.  I have been using automation in some form for around 5 years, but I’ve become more intentional with it over the last year and a half.  I have a day job.  I have a family.  I have a blog. I have a business.  I am able to knock out a large portion of tasks daily thanks to them being automated.  This in turn frees up time to be able to work on other things that I HAVE to touch such as brain dumping ideas, creating blog posts, sketching new product designs, taking and editing photos, etc.  I post to twitter 10 times a day Monday-Friday.  Do you think I would remember to post every 1.5 hours on my own?  Nope.  Not only would I forget, but if I did remember, who’s to say I wouldn’t be in the middle of a meeting at work or a training session or a huge project that requires all of my attention?  I can’t just stop what I’m doing to post a tweet or pin something to Pinterest.  This is why I just add all of my tweets for the week to a Google calendar and they post to twitter automatically around their scheduled time.  This is something that you can do for free by the way.  No limitations on the number of tweets you can schedule at a time (like on Buffer’s free account).

There are also those days where I need to compose a blog post but either A- don’t feel like typing or B- don’t know where to fit it in my day.  Guess what?  Your assistant can do this for you too.  I compose my blog posts initially in a Google Doc.  Fun feature? Voice dictation.  So yes, your assistant can also transcribe/type for you.  This is useful for those long car rides to/from work when you wish you could be doing something productive.  Talk to your assistant and let her type for you.  This also works well for emails that you want to send to your list.  Talk those out as well.  You’re already in the car for 30-60 minutes, so you might as well use the time doing something else other than cursing at other drivers on the road :)

Want to know a few more ways that you can use automation in your processes?

  • Market research: if you can’t think of anything to post about on your blog, a great thing to do is search hashtags on twitter and see what people are confused or asking questions about.  You can keep track of all tweets that match your search criteria in a Google spreadsheet (Google’s version of Microsoft Excel, free as well!).  For example, maybe you are a hair blogger.  Perhaps you could search for #hairproblems (literally just searched for this on twitter and saw a crap ton of posts with people tweeting about their hair problems) for ideas on what to post about.  Instead of stalking twitter hashtags all day, your assistant can stalk for you and put the results right onto a nice spreadsheet that you can check at your leisure.
  • Tag new customers in your email marketing platform when they purchase something from you: this is a great thing to do and can be hard to keep up with on your own.  Let your assistant tag them and send them a satisfaction survey a few days later.  You don’t even have to remember to do all of this, it can happen behind the scenes.
  • Cross promotion: If you are a blogger, whenever you publish a new blog post, rather than going to all of these different social media platforms to shout about it from the rooftops, you can just create a task that will post the details and URL to your social media automatically.  This is what I do and it contributes to my peace of mind.

So how do I use automation in my blogging process?  Along with the three things above, here are a few more ways:

  • Email courses: course content is sent to subscribers automatically on a schedule

  • Label and Filter my emails: Emails that I receive matching a specific criteria are labeled and moved to a different folder.  This helps to keep my inbox looking pretty.

  • Pin my Instagram photos to a Pinterest board every time I post to Instagram

  • PayPal transactions are automatically added to my accounting software

  • Receive a text message whenever I receive a new sale.  I don't need to keep my email open all day as a result which cuts down on distractions.

  • New Client Workflow: When I get a new client, they automatically receive a series of emails (aka onboarding) full of information regarding what they need to do at different phases of the project.  This eliminates me having to remember to send them a questionnaire and the link to my scheduling calendar because the details are outlined in the automated email.

Since BAE has been a key member of my team, I have been able to get a lot of things accomplished that would have taken loads of time and memory to do otherwise.

Here are a few of my posts that go into more detail on how to automate certain tasks:

The best shortcut keys to save you time

Two of my favorite automation programs to use

Three reasons why you should post your Instagram photos to Pinterest

How to use voice dictation for composing blog content

 

Every blog has a different focus and goal, so the ways to automate tasks are immeasurable.  I just wanted to open your eyes to the various possibilities so that you can think about adding automated tasks to your process.  I am a total geek for automation, so if you have any questions about it, I’m here to help!  Just leave your questions and comments below and I’d be happy to answer them.

4 Things That You Are Overlooking When Selling Digital Products

E-Commerce is HUGE!  It’s convenient for consumers to buy online and it’s less overhead for a shop owner.  Win-win, right?  But let’s kick it up a notch...digital products!  This is the ultimate way to generate passive income and requires even less overhead and time spent physically fulfilling orders.  The bulk of time is spent on creating the digital product.  I previously posted about 3 things that you are overlooking when processing orders, but since that was geared more towards people that sell physical products with inventory, I decided to create a part two!  If you sell digital products online, there are four things that you may be overlooking that I will be discussing today.

 

1 / Sending an automated follow-up email with rating scale or survey

Feedback is an awesome thing, but you will never know how your customers feel about your products if you don't ask them.  Positive and negative feedback are great things for a few reasons-

Positive Feedback- This is obviously the best thing because it reassures you that you aren’t selling your products in vain and that you are actually selling a product that people enjoy.  It’s also great because you can use it as receipts (aka testimonials).  Receipts give you more credibility and encourage potential customers to purchase from you.

Negative Feedback- This kind of feedback, though sometimes a blow to your ego, is actually helpful because it tells you areas where you can make adjustments/improvements to your products. If your e-book was too scattered and confusing, this kind of feedback can encourage you to revise it and make it better.  Try to turn negative feedback into a positive thing.

Because of these reasons, you should send an automated follow-up email to all of your customers to get their feedback.  It doesn’t have to be long and elaborate, it can even be just one question (how satisfied were you with the product on a scale of 1-5?).  You can create automated emails to send to customers if you tag them appropriately in your email marketing service provider account.  I use ConvertKit for this and it works great.

 

2 / Incorporating links to your products in related blog posts

Digital products are the ultimate source of passive income because you create the product then pretty much set it and forget it.  You can make sales in your sleep with digital item, but in order to get more eyes on your products, you will have to promote them.  There are various ways to do this, but one smart way is to incorporate links to them in relevant blog posts.  For example, I sell a digital guide on how to create a password protected free resource library in Squarespace.  There are posts that are related to that topic on my blog, so I include the product link in those posts.  The blog post is there to educate the reader and the product is linked to teach them how to create one of their own.

 

3 / Creating a small email sales funnel

Email funnels are something that I’m starting to get into a little more.  When you sell digital products and passive income is your goal, you should be setting up email funnels for your products.  This is basically when you send a series of emails to people that signed up for one of your freebies, and you pitch a paid product to them in the emails.  By doing so, you are able to promote your products on autopilot and generate sales 24/7.  If you are using an email marketing platform that supports tagging or grouping and email automation, you can create an email funnel.  The flow would be something like this:

  • Offer a free blog organization worksheet as a lead magnet on your website
  • Someone signs up to get the sheet.
  • Your email marketing platform automatically sends them the email with the freebie in it.
  • Automation will add them to a “welcome email” series (i.e. the email funnel) in which they will receive a certain amount of emails over a span of time (aka drip content) of your choosing.
  • The initial emails are meant to educate them on something related to the subject of the freebie that they received.
  • The later emails will include pitching your product (the product that you are selling should be directly related to the freebie that you offered, otherwise the funnel may not work out).
  • Ideal result: The subscriber buys the product that you pitched in the email funnel.

 

4 / Sending targeted emails to subscribers tagged with a specific interest

This strategy is similar to the email funnel, but it only involves one email.  If you are utilizing tagging/grouping in your email marketing platform, you should be able to find groups of people that are interested in the same thing.  For example, I have a tag in my ConvertKit account that is called “Interest: Time Hacking”.  This means that whenever I create a new product that is specifically for saving time, I can send a promo email to just that group of people that showed an interest in the topic in the past.

 

Do you currently incorporate any of these strategies in your digital product sales process flow?  I would love to know.  Leave a comment below!