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    7 Steps To Create a Marketing Plan That Actually Works

    Build it and they will come. It’s a well-meaning sentiment. But when it comes to running your own business, it misses the mark a bit.
    As you already know, you can’t simply set up shop and cross your fingers that people find you. Instead, being a successful business owner means constantly marketing and promoting your business in hopes of getting more eyeballs on your product or bodies through the door.
    But, the words “marketing plan” are enough to send shivers down anyone’s spine. It sounds overly technical and completely daunting, doesn’t it? However, I assure you, it isn’t as intimidating as you might think it is—and you definitely don’t need to have a degree in marketing in order to figure it out.
    Follow these seven simple steps, and you’ll be armed with a marketing plan that is sure to help you take your business to the next level!

    What is a marketing plan?
    Before you can jump right in with creating your plan, it’s important to have a solid understanding of what exactly it is. Typically included as an expanded piece of your overall business plan, a marketing plan is just what it sounds like: a document that details everything you need to know in order to successfully promote your business.
    Some large corporations have marketing plans that are hundreds of pages, whereas a small one-person business might only have a handful of pages. There’s no exact length for this sort of document, as long as you’ve included all of the necessary information.
    Additionally, it’s important to note that your marketing plan should span one year. This is enough time to reach those big, long-term objectives, and short enough to remain flexible when your circumstances and goals change over time.
    Now that you know the nuts and bolts, let’s dive into the details. Here are the steps you need to take in order to piece together the essential elements of your business’ marketing plan.

    Step 1: Know Your Business
    You needed to do this exact same thing when working on your business plan, so this first step shouldn’t be too difficult. After all, nobody knows your business quite like you do.
    Think of this section as your opportunity to provide a general overview of your current business operations, as well as your internal and external environment. How long have you been up and running? What’s your business structure? Are you an LLC or a partnership? Do you conduct business online or through a storefront? What sorts of products and services do you offer?
    Within this section, some companies also choose to do a SWOT analysis—which details your strengths and weaknesses as an organization, as well as any opportunities for growth, and threats that could hinder that progress. It’s a great way to get a snapshot of your current situation in a way that’s helpful and completely manageable.

    Step 2: Determine Target Market
    “Target market” is likely a phrase you heard repeated in any sort of marketing class you ever took or article you’ve read. And, for good reason—it’s a key element for coming up with effective and successful marketing strategies.
    In this portion of your marketing plan, you should list anything and everything you know about your ideal customer. This includes basic demographic information, such as gender and age. But you should also dig deeper into their behaviors and decisions.
    Why do they buy from you? What challenge or pain point are you solving for them? How do they spend their free time? What outlets do they turn to to get information? Gather any intel you can find, and include it in this section. Knowing your customer inside and out will be helpful when identifying marketing tactics and strategies.

    Step 3: Analyze Competitors
    Wouldn’t it be nice if you operated in a vacuum and never had to worry about any competitors infringing on your space or stealing your customers? Unfortunately, business doesn’t work that way. Chances are, there are already companies out there doing something incredibly similar to you—meaning you’ll need to work that much harder to stand out.
    Don’t get intimidated! This is something every business owner deals with. So being armed with all sorts of knowledge about your competitors will be helpful in finding ways to differentiate yourself from the crowd.
    Start by describing—in detail—the product or service you offer to consumers. This is your chance to expand on the basic overview you provided in the first section. Then, spell out how your product or service measures up to the existing competition. What positions you as the one source clients or customers should turn to? What makes you different? As you might imagine, you’ll be able to leverage this differentiator to effectively market your business.
    Taking a magnifying glass to your competitors can be disheartening—particularly if they’re really thriving. But it’s an important step to not only gather all of the information you need, but also to demonstrate to any potential investors that you’re aware of your competition and prepared to tackle that challenge head-on.

    Step 4: Set Goals
    Here comes the fun part—spelling out your marketing-related goals for the year. What objectives do you want to accomplish? Are there specific targets you want to hit?
    Depending on your current situation and ambitions, goals can range from lofty and grandiose (such as doubling sales or increasing market share) to smaller, more bite-sized ambitions (like getting 100 new Instagram followers on your brand’s account or starting a blog for your business).
    The important part is to zone in on the milestones you want to reach throughout that year, whether it seems possible or not. Don’t cloud your mind with logistics just yet—this comes in the next step.

    Step 5: Outline Strategies
    Now that you’ve outlined exactly what you want to accomplish, it’s time to detail the strategies you’ll use to actually reach these objectives.
    I recommend taking each goal separately, and listing the related action items directly underneath it. This allows you to see exactly what needs to get done in order to push yourself toward that accomplishment. It’s also a great way to get a handle on whether or not this goal seems realistic or if needs a little adjusting. You want your goals to be motivating and far-reaching, but not so difficult that they’re just discouraging. 
    Let’s stick with the example of getting more followers on your business’ Instagram account. Here’s what this could look like:
    Goal: Gain at least 100 new followers on Company XYZ’s Instagram account by December 31.
    Starting Number: 458
    Action Items:

    Be more active in the space by posting at least three new photos every week.
    Engage with users by responding to comments on photos as well as commenting on photos posted by similar, relevant accounts.
    Research industry and community-related hashtags that we can utilize in our own posts to attract more organic traffic.
    Host an Instagram contest for our followers.

    See? It’s not nearly as complex as you think, but it still provides a tangible, helpful roadmap to set you on the right track to accomplish your goals.

    Step 6: Set a Budget
    If you’re anything like me, this is the part you dread the most—the numbers. I’ve never been a math whiz, and just the word “budget” is enough to send me running for the hills. But, as you already know, it’s a necessary evil when it comes to running your business.
    In your full-blown business plan, you detailed the entire financial side of your business. But in your marketing plan, stay focused strictly on marketing-related activities. How much do you plan to spend on marketing and promotion throughout the next year, and how much will the action items you listed above cost you? Most importantly, where will this money come from?
    Budgets aren’t fun, but it’s important to be honest with yourself here. You’d rather discover you need to tweak or tailor something to make it affordable right now—rather than six months from now when you’ve already forked over your credit card!

    Step 7: Get to Work!
    There you have it! These are the steps you need in order to create a marketing plan for your business—you just need to put them all together. As mentioned earlier, marketing plans vary from basic and simple to comprehensive and complex. And remember, as with everything else, it really depends on what’s best suited for your own business.
    But regardless of whether you plan to end up with a document that’s two pages or 200, these steps should help to get you started! More

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    Everything You Need to Know About Pricing Your Services

    Deciding what to charge (and how to communicate your pricing once you’ve decided on it) is one of the most difficult parts of owning your own business or freelancing. Even thinking the word “pricing” gives me a little shudder. Finding that perfect balance between pricing what you’re worth and attracting the right clients is a key component of your success. I know how challenging it is to set and stick to a pricing structure, but it doesn’t have to be.
    Follow our steps below to untangle the world of pricing and finally feel confident in setting (and even raising when necessary) your specific prices. We go over everything from how to dive into your data and determine costs, to the best way to display your pricing on your website and embed forms (easily done in our go-to website platform, Squarespace) to help you determine your client’s budget right when they initially reach out. Ready to get started? Let’s do this.

    Start your free Squarespace trial today (no credit card required) and use code ‘EVERYGIRL’ for 10% off when you’re ready to publish your website.

    Pricing Your Service-Based Business
    Service-based businesses are especially tricky when considering pricing. You have to take into consideration your value, your direct costs, and your indirect costs. This is different from selling a product directly, where you can do something like a cost + model and price in your skill and value on top of some concrete expenses.
    Instead, pricing your services is a lot about perception. As with most things in business, the best way forward is to start with your customer, then work backward. What role do you fulfill for your customer? Think through exactly the pain point or need that your service solves for them. You will want to reflect on if your service is something of a commodity, or if your deliverable is an anchor in their own business plan or personal needs. For example, is it on the more task-oriented end or is it on the highly creative and customized end of the spectrum? Remember that your expertise is the main heft of your services and it is so easy to downplay our own expertise. Resist! Think of it in terms of this analogy: cutting the wire is just one small part of your services. Knowing which wire to cut is the main heft—your expertise and experience are what your customers are investing in. Don’t sell yourself short. 

    Source: Mathilde Langevin | Unsplash

    Comparing Your Offering and Telling Your Story
    You’ll also want to spend a lot of time doing market research. Ask your industry peers and attend (virtual!) conferences and mixers to understand how they think about pricing. Especially in creative industries, people are less direct about exactly what they charge. However,  you can almost always get good insight into how they think about what they charge. Knowing who your competition is in the space and exactly what their offering looks like is a key part of pricing research.
    Telling a story around your offering and clearly articulating your value proposition is critical. Why would a client come to you versus someone else? What is differentiated about what you offer? So much of communicating pricing is communicating value through your brand. Ideally, you want to be in the market for repeat clients or clients who will refer you forward to new business. This means that through your pricing you’ll also want to communicate the collateral benefits of working with you. Does it mean a perfect track record of on-time deliverables? Access to a community of other like-minded clients? Other free resources down the line? Again, think like your client—when they get to work with you, what else do they get besides a concrete deliverable?
    Make this information easily accessible to your future clients and customers on your website. We love Squarespace’s pre-made website templates for small businesses, which can help you organize this information if you’re not sure where to start. Clearly articulate and list exactly what you offer and take the guesswork out of your services. Highlight areas where you are different than your competitors and really hone in on your specific niche. 

    Try establishing credibility with free client resources. For example, if you’re a brand designer, write a few evergreen blog posts on the different pieces of your brand process (how clients will use a logo, submark, alternate logo, brand pattern, etc.). Think about questions you regularly receive from clients and turn them into blog posts. This will save you time in the long run as you won’t have to answer every question individually, and you’ll establish your expertise for future clients at the same time. 

    Structuring Pricing – Project vs. Hourly Wages
    For a service-based business, pricing primarily works around time. One of the ways to start thinking about pricing is giving yourself an annual wage, and then work backward. If you are targeting to make a certain amount per year, what does that break down to monthly? Then go further and think about what that means in terms of hours you’re looking to put into this business—especially if you have other work or business streams. Once you have a general idea of this, you’ll have to do some tinkering.
    So much “invisible work” goes into the hours spent in a service business far beyond the exact project for a client. You have time building your network, building your website, acquiring new clients, and following up—the list goes on. You also have to think of the opportunity costs of the time you spend doing this that you’re not doing something else. For brand new business launches, this can be significant. Lastly, you’ll want to really evaluate other fixed costs like new technology you need, or even adding team members to help with additional tasks.

    Source: @alainakaz

    Project or Hourly Pricing?
    The decision to price by project or hour often comes down to industry. What do your peers do? Are you served by replicating that, or is there an advantage in acquiring new clients if you did something different? For businesses just starting out, a fixed price for a project can be a great way to gain exposure and build your portfolio. The client knows the total cost upfront, and you can take all the time you need to get up the curve learning new aspects of servicing them.
    For more established businesses, hourly may be a good fit. Hourly may also be your preferred method of pricing if you know that deliverables can have wild swings in your time commitment. This approach, however, requires a lot of upfront communication with clients, and to clearly and transparently track your time.
    Pro tip: Even if you’re not working on an hourly pricing model, track all your time. Seriously, all of it. It will help you immensely in determining how long tasks are taking you—from client-facing tasks to the invisible business tasks like updating your website or creating marketing graphics to post on social media. Start tracking how many hours you are routinely working every day, week, month. Getting a handle on this data will help you determine what is working from a time-perspective and if you need to do something differently.

    Should I Make My Pricing Public?
    There are a number of pros and cons to making pricing public. Offerings that are highly customized often don’t lend themselves to public pricing because so many factors will go into consideration in shaping the client’s final outcome. However, you see many higher-end creative services note that “Pricing Begins at $XXX” to give clients a sense of where they could start discussions.
    This type of transparency is really useful. It does two things. It lets your clients benchmark an offering so they can appropriately budget. It is also respectful of their time. They know you’re straightforward and that you’ve got a sense of your value. And, it keeps you from answering inquiries solely to question price. (Highly price-sensitive clients are probably not long-term clients for many creatives.) Clients eventually need pricing information, and you may be missing out on some engagement if you’re not willing to give them a bit of a benchmark.

    Alternatively, if you’re more on the task end of the spectrum, or even a creative whose work tends to be repeated in modules (think, photographers who work in 1-hour blocks), then transparent pricing can work in your favor. You can also think of offering a single discrete product with a very straightforward price. For example, 20-minute, single-location headshot sessions that result in two digital prints for $X. We love the commerce functionality available in Squarespace that allows you to add a physical, digital, or service-based product to your site. Creating a product for some offerings (rather than letting clients inquire directly) will help speed up your process and let you skip any price questions or haggling attempts. 

    When adding pricing to your website, consider using an embedded inquiry form (so easy to set up via Squarespace) that allows clients to check their project budget from a pre-determined list (i.e., Under $500, $500-$1500, Over $1500, etc.). It allows for price transparency while also showcasing price flexibility according to project scope. 

    The Spectrum of Public Pricing
    Lastly, you may want to consider giving a more nuanced view of your pricing publicly. For example, you may display on your site some bands of pricing on specific projects that you know you do routinely (e.g., Single logos, $250 – $500). However, depending on the client you are trying to attract, you may also want to include some promotional pricing language.
    This could look like, “Ask us about specials for new clients!” Or, “Discounting available for women-owned businesses and non-profits.” You could also include details on how clients can pay you, if you offer payment plans, or other ways that the contract process works. At the end of the day, all of these pieces work to get you closer to the client and remove barriers to sealing the deal!

    Start your free Squarespace trial today (no credit card required) and use code ‘EVERYGIRL’ for 10% off when you’re ready to publish your website.

    This post is sponsored by Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    You’ve Been Asked To Take a Pay Cut—What Do You Do Next?

    It’s fairly common to fantasize about the day your boss calls you into their office and finally offers you that well-deserved raise. Maybe they even throw in a corner office. What’s less common, and what some people may not even realize, is that your boss may be able to ask you to take a pay cut. 
    Why does this happen? One strategy some employers use to retain as much staff as possible during periods of economic downturn is to ask their employees to take a pay cut. This is a conversation no one wants to have, but it is one you may have to face if your company is struggling in light of recent events. If you do get asked to take a pay cut, you don’t want to be caught completely off guard. While it may never happen to you (fingers majorly crossed!), we’re going to answer a few questions that will help prepare you in case you are approached about taking a pay cut one day. 

    Understand what taking a pay cut means
    In short, taking a pay cut means your company will start paying you less to do the same job. While in very rare scenarios, a company may do this if an employee is underperforming; but in light of the pandemic, some companies are doing this simply to keep as many of their employees employed as possible while they fight through a difficult economic period. 
    In a 2020 study by the Pew Research Center, a third of respondents reported that either they or someone in their household had to take a pay cut in April of this year. Another study by the Conference Board found that 537 public companies have cut their top managers since the Covid-19 pandemic began. While it’s difficult to anticipate what a pay cut will look like, as every company will take a different approach, one study that reviewed changes at 22 public and private technology companies discovered that non-executive employees experienced pay cuts by an average rate of 10 to 15 percent in recent months.

    Do I have to take a pay cut?
    Maybe. If you are “hired at will,” which most employees are, then they can lower your pay or reduce your hours, as long as they don’t drop your pay below minimum wage. Workers with employment contracts may be in a different boat, but chances are an employer won’t ask someone with an iron-clad contract to take a pay cut. 

    Know your rights
    Your employer has to notify you before reducing your pay or hours, and a pay cut cannot be done discriminatorily—things like race, religion, gender, or age can’t be the reason for the cut. If you’re protected by a bargaining agreement or employment contract, they can’t lower your pay, so make sure you review your contract carefully.

    Source: Sincerely Media | Unsplash

    My employer asked me to take a pay cut… what now?

    Ask how long the pay cut will last
    Unfortunately, a pay cut can go on indefinitely. Chances are your company won’t have a clear-cut answer for you, but you still need to ask how long the dip in your salary should last. They may know that big contracts will be paid out in six months’ time or that once social distancing comes to an end that they can bounce back. You need to have a conversation about this, but don’t expect any promises made—and don’t bank on any that are.  

    Ask for something in exchange
    If your pay is going to be cut, now is the time to negotiate for more vacation days or more work-from-home days (not super relevant right now, but secure them for the future!). Something you can consider asking is if you’re able to work fewer hours in exchange for losing compensation. 

    Ask the right questions
    Do not be afraid to ask questions! You have every right to know exactly what is going on, why it is happening, and how you will be affected by these changes. Here are a few questions you deserve answers to, so make sure you ask them. 

    Why are you doing pay cuts?
    How many of my colleagues are being impacted by pay cuts?
    When will it take effect?
    How long is the cut anticipated to last?
    Are you taking away or lessening my 401(k) match?
    Will my health care costs rise?
    Are any benefits going to change?
    Is there the potential for more pay cuts to happen in the future?
    Will my hours and responsibilities remain the same?
    What are the company’s long-term plans for recovery?

    Decide what you want to do long term
    The coronavirus pandemic has caused so many companies to struggle, not just logistically but financially as well. As of September 2020, Yelp found that almost 98,000 businesses on their platform had permanently shut down during the pandemic. Companies that choose to do pay cuts instead of layoffs are trying to keep as much of their staff employed as possible, while also attempting to avoid plummeting morale for their staff. If a pay cut is too financially difficult for you, then you’ll want to start looking for a new job that can compensate you the amount that you need now. You need to prioritize your financial health and career, and you shouldn’t feel bad about doing that.

    Source: Mathilde Langevin | Unsplash

    How to turn down a pay cut gracefully
    In some cases, your employer may be informing you of a pay cut; in other cases, they may be asking employees to take pay cuts in order to help the company. If this is the case, pause for a moment. You don’t have to give your boss an answer right away. You can tell them that you need some time to digest the news and can schedule a time to talk another day. That will give you time to take a breath, talk things over with a partner or parent, and formulate a thoughtful and polite response. 
    If you do decide to reject the pay cut, you do not need to get into the details of your personal finances. You can simply say that while you understand the company is going through a difficult time, taking a pay cut isn’t feasible for you right now. If they push the issue further, you may want to involve your HR rep in any future conversations about the topic. More

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    This Week Only: Our Best-Selling Photoshop Course Is Back!

    Our best-selling online course, The Essential Photoshop, is back for this week only! Plus, our comprehensive online course on how to edit photos with just your phone and a special one-time bundle offer. 
    In The Essential Photoshop, you’ll learn all our Photoshop secrets—from how to edit your photos for peak light and vibrancy to how to create show-stopping graphics that will grow your engagement. We use Photoshop every. single. day. here at The Everygirl and we seriously couldn’t live without it. With guided video, screen recordings, worksheets, and Photoshop templates, we’re guiding you through exactly how we use this multi-faceted program. You’ll finish the course with a solid understanding of how to leverage Photoshop for a more visually stunning brand or business.
    In Mastering Photo Editing on Your Phone, you’ll learn how we style, shoot, and edit photos with just a phone. Playing with filters is fun, but sometimes you need to overhaul a photo and a filter just won’t cut it. In this course, you’ll learn the separate core elements of photo editing, so you can edit any photo with ease. All you need to take the course is a phone with app capability. 
    Ready to get started? Grab either course for this week only or take advantage of our one-time bundle offer and get them both at a major discount! 

    What’s included in this course? 

    The Essential Photoshop
    This course is a comprehensive, step-by-step guide through Photoshop—from creating your first layer to advanced editing and graphic techniques. Each module contains multiple video tutorials walking you step by step through each part of the program, so you can learn at your own pace and rewind or review as much as you need. 

    Mastering Photo Editing On Your Phone
    We start the course with our best tips and tricks for actually taking your photos. Even though editing can cover a lot of sins when it comes to photos, it always helps to set yourself up for success when shooting. We go over how to create balance in the composition of your shots and our process for taking our fave photos—like outfit flatlays, exterior shots, and interior vignettes. 

    Next, we take you through all the edits we routinely make on our photos—from brightness to contrast to removing imperfections. You’ll see guided video tutorials and pro tips from our guest instructors Lauren Taylor and Ali Stone. Plus, you’ll learn our favorite apps for making specific edits—like Snapseed and Tezza—as well as the order we make our edits for the best results. 

    Looking for a more one-and-done solution? 
    If you want to edit your photos on the fly and need a one-click editing solution, grab our pack of exclusive Lightroom presets, available now! With nine different edit styles from ultra bright to moody to warm and soft, you can edit all your interior, exterior, and flatlay shots with one tap of a finger.  Learn more about our presets and grab yours here. 

    What do I need to take the courses? 

    The Essential Photoshop
    You’ll need access to Photoshop to take the course. We recommend using the Adobe Creative Cloud version of Photoshop, which you can purchase and download here. Adobe also offers free trials of the program for up to 30 days. 
    Besides Photoshop, all you need is a computer with Internet access and a pen and paper to take notes. 

    Mastering Photo Editing On Your Phone
    In this course, you’ll learn the separate core elements of photo editing, so you can edit any photo with ease. All you need to take the course is a phone with app capability. All the apps we use and teach in the course are either free or less than $2.99. 

    Frequently asked questions

    When do the courses start? 
    Both courses, The Essential Photoshop and Mastering Photo Editing on Your Phone, are entirely pre-recorded, so you can start them whenever works best for you! Upon purchasing, you’ll have immediate access to the full courses, including video tutorials and worksheet downloads. 

    What if I have questions while I’m taking the course?
    Each course comes with access to a private Facebook group to connect with other attendees and ask questions. You can also always reach out to [email protected] and we’ll be happy to assist. 
    Both courses also come with lifetime access, so you’ll be able to refer back to the materials, tutorial videos, and downloads as often as you’d like.

    Do you offer a payment plan? 
    Yes! We recognize our online courses are an investment, so both are available to purchase with a payment plan split into three monthly payments. If you have questions on the payment plan, reach out to [email protected] and we’ll be happy to help! More

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    Career Bucket List: 7 Achievable Goals To Set For Yourself This Year

    Even though it may feel like 2021 is flying by, we still have plenty of time left this year to work toward some major goals. If you’re looking to give your career a boost, why not put some pen to paper and start crafting your career bucket list? There’s no reason you need to limit your bucket list to travel and recreational activities. We spend so much of our time at work that putting the time and energy into building a career that fulfills and excites you can be just as thrilling as skydiving or traveling to a new continent. 
    To give yourself some guidance this year, let’s walk through a few examples of goals you can put on your career bucket list in 2021. Of course, this is just a jumping-off point. It’s your career, so you’ll need to figure out what achievements and changes are important to you to work toward this year. 

    1. Start a side hustle you’re excited about
    We chose our words carefully here, the reason we think starting a side hustle “you’re excited about” is a good thing to potentially add to your career bucket list is because you should have fun with your side hustle! We all know that the hustle culture we’re living in has gotten a bit toxic in the past few years, so it’s important to only take on a side hustle if it won’t jeopardize your wellness. One major way to make a side hustle feel fun and like a profitable hobby instead of an extra job is to choose something you’re really excited to do. You should want to work on your side hustle, not feel like you have to. If you think a side hustle is something you should add to your bucket list this year, try to choose one you’re really excited about. Not sure how to get started? Here’s what to do if you end up pursuing a side hustle this year! 

    2. Find a mentor
    Careers are tricky and as supportive as friends and family tend to be, you can’t always turn to them for advice if they’re unfamiliar with your industry or job. Finding a mentor that has experience in your chosen career path, in your industry, or at your current company, can help you gain objective insight that comes from experience. This isn’t to say that people who provide mentorship support are career genies who know all the answers, but as they’re generally further along in their careers, they can speak from experience on some of the struggles you may be going through. 
    If you don’t see any of your existing relationships evolving into a mentoring opportunity this year, it’s always okay to be upfront about your search for a mentor. People are generally happy to help. Reach out to someone you admire on LinkedIn and ask to meet for coffee. If all goes well, you can request to continue consulting them about career issues. You can also ask someone you respect at your company if you can come to them with career questions from time to time. Being upfront will help make sure you’re on the same page. For more tips on finding a mentor, read this helpful article!

    3. Be a mentor
    On the flip side, if you’re in a place in your career where you can give back to someone who is younger or new to your industry, then reach out and offer to lend a helping hand. So many people are afraid to ask for help, so if you feel like you can provide guidance and support to someone who needs it, you can make the first move. You can always consider joining an official mentorship program that helps teens find their way or can simply offer to have coffee with that newbie in the office who likes to ask a lot of questions. Will becoming a mentor give you a career boost? Maybe, maybe not! Even if you don’t benefit directly from your mentoring efforts, helping others is always a good thing to do. 

    4. Master a new skill
    As nice as it would be, you’re not going to get a raise or promotion every year, no matter how good you are at your job. As tempting as it is to focus on short-term goals, sometimes you need to pivot to devoting your energy to longer-term ones. Mastering a new skill this year will allow you to work toward goals that may be a bit farther off, while gaining the satisfaction of achieving something in the here and now. Take an online course, sign up for a professional certification program, or ask your manager if you can spearhead a new project that is a bit out of your wheelhouse. Gaining new skills now will make your larger goals easier to achieve and can be really fun and engaging. Here are a few ideas for in-demand career skills you can aim to build this year!

    5. Find work-life balance
    We’re all for hustling hard and busting your butt to meet your goals, but we’re also really big fans of taking a break when we need it. You can’t burn the midnight oil night after night, so make sure you’re working toward your career goals in a way that supports your wellness. There is a line between working to live and living to work, and that’s finding a work-life balance you’re happy with. Evaluate your commitments, your schedule, and your personal goals this year to see how you can find a balance that helps you feel your best. If a raise is off the table at work this year due to budget constraints (a familiar story for many in light of recent events), ask for help achieving work-life balance instead. Think—a more flexible schedule, more work-from-home days, or time off each month to volunteer for a cause that’s important to you. These tech tips are also a great starting point for finding more work-life balance!

    6. Plan your next big career move
    Hopefully, your career will span many happy years, so there’s no need to feel the pressure to achieve all of your goals right now. As cool as all those 30 under 30 lists are, they’ve set an unrealistic standard that we have to be at the peak of our careers in our twenties. Let’s push those thoughts aside and focus on the long game. If you can identify what you want your next big career move to be, you’re off to a great start. Finding clarity and direction for your career is a major achievement. Start thinking about what you want to achieve in 2022 and beyond, so you can start planning the steps you need to take to get there. Need some help setting career goals? This guide can help!

    7. Invest in yourself
    Let’s end this list of career bucket list suggestions on a purposely vague note. While we can’t tell you what should be on your bucket list, we strongly suggest adding “invest in yourself” to the top of the list. What investing in yourself means will vary depending on your needs and goals. For some, it might be going back to school. For others, it may be leaving work early twice a month to go to therapy. Maybe you need to commit to going to bed earlier or want to hire a career coach to help you during your upcoming job search. Whatever you need, give it to yourself in 2021, and we’re confident your career will benefit as a result.  More

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    Women Experienced More Burnout Than Men in 2020—Here’s Why

    You would be hard-pressed to find someone who’s life hasn’t been massively affected by the coronavirus pandemic. No matter where you live or what your job is, chances are you’ve had to learn to adapt to this new reality that’s not feeling all that new anymore. Of course, our lives haven’t all changed to the same degree, but on a fairly broad level, it’s coming to light that women in particular are feeling more burnt out than men in 2020. 
    There are a lot of things going on right now that are out of our control, and accepting that is a wellness tool in and of itself. That being said, there are some steps women can take to help stave off burnout, and we have the expert insight to back us up. 

    What is going on at home?
    Research from LeanIn.Org found that in 2020, women have taken on way more housework and caregiving than men have during the pandemic. The outcome of this extra work? Women are showing signs of anxiety and burnout—signs we should take seriously. Women are twice as likely as men to experience physical symptoms of anxiety such as having a racing heartbeat or struggling to sleep right now. This is especially true for women who work full-time and who have a partner and children. They’re more than twice as likely as men in similar situations to feel that they have more on their plate than they can possibly handle.
    So exactly how much more work have women taken on in 2020 to keep everything afloat? That group of women that have full-time jobs, partners, and children reported on average spending significantly more time each week on the following responsibilities than men do. 

    7.4 more hours on childcare
    5.3 more hours caring for elderly or sick relatives
    At least 7 more hours on housework

    If you crunch those numbers, that means women are doing close to 20 hours more work per week than men, which is the equivalent of taking on a part-time job after already working 40 hours a week. 
    Casandra Townsel, a licensed social worker, explained that sometimes we have to cut ourselves a little slack to help avoid burnout. She suggested that we, “Recognize when we are overwhelmed and ‘burned out’ because we are carrying a load we are not meant to carry alone,” Townsel said. She expressed that it’s OK to leave the dishes in the sink. “Women can do many great things, but doing everything is not healthy or necessary.  Doing our best is good enough. It is important for women to give ourselves permission to not have to do everything,” she said.  
    Townsel believes in setting clear boundaries when you’re starting to feel burned out at home, “Developing and implementing boundaries is one of the greatest tools to alleviate stress and anxiety. Boundaries are a necessity for not just our mental and physical health, but also the health of our relationships. It is important to establish boundaries within all our relationships, that includes family, which can be very difficult for some to do,” she explained. 

    What is going on at work?
    Home isn’t the only place where women are doubling down on work and stress. Despite the fact that we’re living in extremely stressful and difficult times, only 41 percent of employees reported their employer changed policies to allow more flexibility during the pandemic. While these numbers aren’t exclusive to women, you can see how they can affect the previously mentioned working women who are feeling burnt out. Women balancing childcare or eldercare in particular may find a lack of flexibility to really impede their ability to balance their work and personal life. Just 31 percent of workers said their manager or someone from HR checked in on their well-being. Friendly reminder to any employers reading this: ask how your employees are doing and how you can help them get through this challenging time. 

    Source: Colorjoy Stock

    Say what you need
    When it comes to the workplace, Krista Williams and Lindsey Simcik, the co-hosts of the Almost 30 podcast, recommended taking charge of the situation by openly communicating with your boss or company about your needs. They suggest setting aside time to acknowledge what will help you cope right now and on an ongoing basis. Put on soothing music or anything that helps create a sacred space, then simply put pen to paper and write down what you need. Don’t judge what comes up. Is there anything on the list that you can clearly communicate with your boss or company? Perhaps you need different hours to accommodate childcare, want set hours where you do and don’t take meetings, or need a mental health day. They emphasized that you shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed to express when you need support. Townsel agreed with this advice, “Let go of the assumptions that you are expected to do everything. Give yourself permission to ask for help. Be assertive and request to collaborate with others. This helps to eliminate stress, while adhering to personal and professional outcomes,” she noted. 
    The same rules apply at home. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by family and household responsibilities, do the same exercise. Then sit down with your partner to discuss your needs and how they can step up to help. If you’re tackling eldercare, you may need to have this conversation with siblings or other family members who should be sharing those responsibilities with you. 

    Express gratitude
    According to Williams and Simcik, when they feel anxious or out of control, they always come back to gratitude. 
    They recommend trying this gratitude practice: close your eyes and put your hands on the part of your body where you feel the most tension. Start to notice your breath and lengthen it to ground you. Say something you are grateful for in the present moment out loud. It can be as simple as, “I am grateful for the breath in my lungs.” They encourage you to follow your gratitude with a “why.” With everything going on around us, what we can control are our thoughts in the present moment. When you choose to focus those thoughts on gratitude, it will shift your perspective and help you feel lighter and more peaceful. 

    Avoid the internet
    Williams and Simcik have one major piece of advice for sending burnout packing. Scale back the time you spend online. They feel there is a lot of negative energy online, on social media, and in the news, and as a result you need to protect your energy as much as you can. You get to decide what you take in. They like to do a digital detox for a day or a weekend to unplug from social media and TV. They recommend taking walks in nature, reading, journaling, meditating, and spending time reconnecting with yourself. 
    Also, please note that we are living in an unprecedented time right now and you’re not alone. You’re doing your best and that’s more than enough.  More

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    5 Things to Do for Your Business This Month

    The beginning of a new year is the perfect time to take stock of your business’s success over the past 12 months and areas where you have opportunities for growth or transitions. If you’re feeling excited about where to take your business in 2021, it’s time to capitalize on this ideation period and focus on the key things that will help you reach your goals while maintaining your boundaries. We’ve put together five important checks to make this month—from deepening your understanding of your clients to refreshing your digital presence (with a little help from our go-to website building platform, Squarespace). 

    1. Understand your value drivers
    If you’ve been in business for five months or five years, understanding what is resonating with your audience is a huge factor in deepening engagement, brand loyalty, and repeat customers, readers, or viewers. Sometimes knowing what is working and what isn’t feels intuitive, but don’t skimp on the actual data. Take a look at your last six months of operation—where did your customers or viewers come from? What was your most popular product, service, or blog post? Make a master list of everywhere you accumulate data from, including social media, email marketing, accounting software, and your website. 
    If the amount of analytics available feels overwhelming, remember to hone in on the essentials. Just because something is available to track, doesn’t mean it will be useful to you and your particular biz. I love the analytics available in Squarespace, because they put the most important information I need at the forefront and make it super easy to navigate traffic and sales through my website. One feature that has been a game-changer for my small business is the abandoned cart analytics. I can easily see how many people are adding products to their cart on my site, but not checking out. Then, I can troubleshoot ways to get that percentage lower, from sending an abandoned cart recovery email (plus I can auto-send these reminders in Squarespace!) to offering sales to repricing or retiring certain products. 

    Now as a next step, take a look at the last six months of how you are spending your time. What takes up the bulk of your days? Are they activities that directly align with and enable those revenue flows? You may have to do a bit of connecting the dots here. (Appearing as a guest on someone’s podcast, for example, probably drove some follows to your Insta that resulted in business there.)
    The key to growing your business is understanding, with precision, where you are undertaking activities that either create value or eat up your time with few results. Adjust accordingly!

    2. Map out client personas
    With a better understanding of your value drivers, you’re positioned to revisit your dream client. When you started your business, you probably already did this to some extent. But as you really get your feet under you, who your clients are will change and evolve. You learn a lot along the way in those first few years, and gain a much clearer sense of who your key customer is.
    To truly build a successful business long term, you need to know exactly who you’re serving. It’s not sufficient to say your life coaching services “help busy women everywhere.” That big of a population makes it incredibly difficult to create an effective marketing strategy, because you’d need to reach and appeal to too wide a cross-section of needs and interests. Instead, take a day and do some deep digging on your customers, and build a few dream client personas. What are their goals? How do they spend free time? What do they value? Why are they on social media? Getting super granular allows you to build a vision of a customer that creates more opportunities for you to connect with them and add unique value. Don’t be afraid to lean into a niche—that’s where your unique services and your ideal clients will connect. Need help narrowing in on your niche? Read this. 

    3. Refresh your digital presence
    With a fresh perspective on who your dream client is, it’s time to align your digital presence accordingly. Your social media, website, and messaging should be highly aligned with your core mission, key audience, and overall business goals. If you’ve been in the game for a while, or, if you’re quickly getting more clarity on your target audience, it might be time for a refresh.
    Enroll a trusted friend to take a look at your social media and any other digital channels with fresh eyes. Or, do a short survey to past clients or newsletter subscribers. Ask them for feedback on functionality, content, and the vibe they’re getting. Do they know things about your value, style, and business proposition that don’t seem readily reflected? It doesn’t take a complete brand overhaul to continue to refine and align your virtual presence to your value proposition. Think about adding new content, refreshing some photography, or rearranging your bio. Small tweaks add up.
    Now is also a great time to check in with your website. (Not sure if you need a website? Read this.) Have a friend review your site and note any questions that come up. Is it hard to find your contact information? Is it clear what you do and where customers, clients, or readers should be led after landing on your site? If you need help with layout, we highly recommend our platform of choice, Squarespace. You can choose from dozens of templates and get started right away. Replace the demo content with your own and you’re ensured a beautiful site that is also functional and lead-generating. Win, win. 

    4. Invest in the boss
    As a business owner, it’s easy to put yourself last on the list. For many of us, you’re a one-woman show, the Chief Do-er, planner, Executive Assistant—the list goes on. But when that’s the case and it’s all riding on you, it’s even more important that you invest in yourself. You are your business. 
    This can look a million different ways, but it’s a good time to reflect on what investing in the CEO of your business looks like. It could mean you’re ready to put some new boundaries in place: for example, not scheduling any client meetings on Mondays. Or, it could mean setting new payment terms on invoicing to better manage your cash flow. It may also mean that you need to set aside some money or time for classes that can continue to elevate your executive presence. This could look like major industry conferences or skill builders like joining a toastmasters club to get better at speaking in public.

    Source: Social Squares

    5. Define how you give back
    It’s increasingly important to understand how your business not only creates financial value, but also how it fits into larger societal good. How do you give back? This is a really exciting space to start to define your goals. And, even the smallest of small businesses have ways to do this.
    Get creative. Do you have the ability to discount services to other women-owned or minority-owned businesses? Could you offer a free webinar on a particular topic to people who show a receipt for donating to a cause you care about? What about planting a tree for every package you ship? You don’t need to be a million dollar business to define and act on your goals in this space.

    This post is sponsored by Squarespace, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More