How Paul Collins Overcame Childhood Illness to Become a Successful Entrepreneur

Welcome to our second SPI community member feature! On our SPI Facebook Group, we have over 40,000 amazing entrepreneurs across all stages of business, and I wanted to start highlighting some of the amazing work the community members are doing with their businesses here on the blog.

Brendan Hufford, our Facebook Community manager, wrote this post to highlight Paul Collins, whose business focuses on teaching English as a second language.

You can also check out Brendan and his work at his blog.

And if you haven’t done so already, click here to join the Facebook Group and be a part of the community!

“Why would anybody pay for this?”

That’s a question Paul Collins asked himself as he was starting his business, English Transformation, which focuses on teaching people how to speak English as a second language.

He was launching his business in a saturated marketplace, which included powerhouse language businesses such as:

  • Rosetta Stone, which is publicly traded and had $265 million in revenue in 2013
  • Babbel, which raised $22 million in 2015
  • Duolingo, which raised $75 million in 2017 at a $700 million valuation

How could Paul possibly compete with those businesses?

But Paul has drive and determination, two traits he developed as a child struggling with illness. According to his doctor in London, Paul suffered from the worst case of eczema in the United Kingdom from age one to twenty-four. Sometimes, he could barely walk, get dressed, or even function.

When he was 13, his eczema cleared up for a short time. However, he would later learn that the reason his symptoms cleared up was because his body was battling something else: liver cancer. Paul was told, at points, that he wouldn’t live another 48 hours. Thankfully, he survived the cancer, only to see his eczema return worse than ever.

But struggling with his health was all that Paul had ever known, so the resilience that it bred in him has always been there.

In 2004, Paul met a man that would change his life. Paul was on a boat, trying to put on two wetsuits and getting ready to scuba dive when the man asked Paul if he had a problem with his liver. Amazed that somebody could know this just by looking at him, Paul would go on a journey of discovery where he not only learned how to heal himself physically but also mentally.

This man took one look at Paul and said, “Come and see me and I’ll teach you how to breathe.” Paul thought to himself, ”OK, buddy. I’m all right, thanks. I know how to breathe just fine.”

But at this time, Paul was always carrying around an asthma inhaler to help him breathe and a tube of steroid cream for his eczema. The final decision for Paul to go see this acquaintance was when he started to have suicidal ideation–even going so far as to write a goodbye letter to his relatives. It was then he decided it was time to pull out all the stops.

The man took Paul to the beach near his home on the Gold Coast, Australia, and lead Paul through Qi Gong—a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used in the belief that it promotes health, spirituality—martial arts training, and a variety of meditations. He taught Paul his Breathe Enhancement Technique as well as The Geno-Type Diet.

He told Paul to throw away the inhaler. Paul took his advice and hasn’t used one since. Within a few weeks, Paul was running around the local park doing things he’d never have been able to do. “Basically, I became ‘normal.’ I was able to do things that other people take for granted,” he says.

After that, his eczema, asthma, and cancer didn’t return. Paul was left with only half a liver due to the cancer, but he wouldn’t trade his health struggles for the world, as they shaped him into the type of entrepreneur who wades, unflinching, into the deep waters of building a business.

Despite never attending college or university due to his chronic illness, Paul was able to attain a position as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, something nearly impossible without a degree.

While teaching ESL in Australia, Paul noticed that his students were not getting the services that they expected and deserved. While working at a failing school, Paul started his own courses from his home office in the afternoons. One day, while he was looking for office space with a friend (who also taught ESL), Paul met with a group looking for International English Language Testing System (IELTS) instructors.

Six months later, after the school Paul was teaching at closed, he decided to go all-in on his own business.

Diving Into a Saturated Market

Seeing the local market opportunity, Paul and his friend (who would become his business partner) paid no attention to big players like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone. “I honestly didn’t really give it too much thought. Maybe that was out of arrogance, or maybe it was stupidity,” says Paul.

While there are a lot of solutions out there to teach English, Paul specifically helps people pass the IELTS exam, a high-stakes English exam. It is an extremely challenging test for most people, including native speakers. So, they are not only teaching a language but the specifics of how to reach a particular score on a test.

Paul set himself apart with an integrated approach (which he also refers to as “blended learning”) that result in students having the highest level of IELTS and ESL knowledge. This means they integrate personal development aspect into all of our sessions as nearly all of their students suffer from anxiety, worry, and a myriad of other problems from trying to pass a constantly changing exam.

“Really, we believe that the human aspect is essential to improving at a language,” says Paul. “That’s one of the main reasons why we have our online courses, and still provide face-to-face sessions, either with one of us directly or with one of our tutors. We aim to expand this with a pay-as-you-go app service. Students need the connection for clarification and correction of their work and progress. Yes, it’s more time consuming for us, but we also get to provide work for others and a better service to our clients.”

Sadly, says Paul, many other businesses in the market provide a sub-par, and in many cases incorrect, product. “It’s just wrong and doesn’t help the student,” Paul says. His students often tell him they have learned more through English Transformation in a few hours than they did in weeks or months at a traditional school or trying to learn via YouTube videos.

Staying Afloat in Rough Waters

Paul’s journey hasn’t been without its setbacks. In fact, one of his biggest mistakes was, ironically, over-thinking some things and not thinking others through fully.

Things that Paul should have paid attention to, like his bookkeeping (which he refers to as “the boring side of business”) actually cost him quite a bit in penalties and government fines until he brought on his wife as a bookkeeper.

For example, in deciding on a platform for their online courses, Paul caught a case of “analysis paralysis” as he fully educated himself on every single platform possible, reading multiple reviews and comparisons of each. As you might expect, Paul settled on hosting his online courses with Teachable for its mix of ease-of-use, price, and design. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, Pat receives compensation if you purchase through this link.]

Another mistake, which cost Paul dearly, was going into a deal with an international partner. They partnered with a friend of a friend to license teachers in another country and were never paid for their work. In the end, they had to pay the teachers out of their pockets and walk away. In retrospect, Paul says, “I knew it was not the right move but whether it was greed or hope or something, I went along with the idea. I did stop it sooner than others were willing to when the gut feeling got too strong, but by then it was a little late.”

Since then, they’ve had numerous requests to partner with others or take on investment, but Paul and his partner have learned from their mistakes and are much more wary this time around.

Navigating these rough waters was possible because he took action on what he was learning from Pat and Smart Passive Income. Some of the resources that helped Paul grow his business include:

First, simply seeing that Pat had lost his job and created a blog to teach people how to pass a test. Although his business is in a different market, Paul simply mirrored that effort and had a path to move forward.

Next, it was Pat’s short video on how to start a website. Within a few minutes, Paul had his own website up and running.

Additionally, here are six podcast episodes that had a huge impact on Paul:

  • Episode 25: More Online Business Success Stories from People Who Don’t Teach Others How to Make Money Online. Paul says, “It was great to hear that folks could make money without teaching people how to make money. . . I guess for all of [the guests] I liked their ‘Go For It!’ attitude. I’m still developing that as I go.”
  • Episode 37: Monetizing in A Hobby Niche – Success Story, Interview Series 3. “I loved how [the guest] ran webinars and repackaged the content into information products. I also liked how the guest talked about being genuine and using her personality as is, remaining natural which is what I think people connect with. That’s what we do too.”
  • Episode 38: World Domination and The $100 Start-up with Chris Guillebeau. “I listened to the audio book before I heard the podcast. What’s not to like about this? I liked how he talks about a product that people can get for free, but that they pay for out of convenience. Everyone should read Chris’ book for sure.”
  • Episode 44 and Episode 45: How to Win with Your Email List Parts 1 and 2, respectively. “I loved all of the DOs and DON’Ts of email marketing, particularly where to place sign-up forms. Also, the way Pat includes the fact that he has posts with affiliate links, but emphasizes that he won’t give them in this post and doesn’t expect listeners to use the links unless they felt they gained value. In episode 45, the GOLD was what to include, when to include it and how to time your email sequence.”
  • Episode 49: Being Everywhere and Building a Community Around A Product Niche with Brendan Hufford. “I liked the fact that Brendan was teaching and running this in his spare time. The real niche aspect was cool too. Another few things that I liked were the laid-back style he talked about using on the site and the business idea that came from the project. Helping others while you help yourself is super cool.”

Setting His Sails

Currently, Paul’s business makes around $15k AUD per month (roughly $11k USD per month at time of publishing). This can fluctuate quite a bit month to month, but this breakthrough of income has only come recently. Much of the income has come on the back of offering online courses and a self-published book.

But for Paul, it’s not just about money. Owning his own business has enabled him to live life (mostly) on his own terms. If he wants to spend the afternoon in the pool with his daughters who are two and seven, he can.

What’s next for Paul? He wants to continue to grow his business and keep telling the story of how he’s been able to heal so radically from his childhood illness and go on to become a successful entrepreneur.

If you’re inspired by Paul’s story, check out Pat’s awesome free course on how to Build Your Own Brand. And be sure to join our SPI Facebook Community to get to know other entrepreneurs like Paul! Hope to see you there.

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SPI 323: How to Get Affiliates and JVs to Promote for You with Matt McWilliams

If you’ve listened to the show before, you’ve probably heard me talk about affiliate marketing. But what about the other side? What if you have a product—like a course or a new book—that you own and you want other people to promote it? How do you find those people? What should their commission be? Learn the answer to these questions and more with today’s special guest Matt McWilliams.

Every time I’ve done a joint affiliate promotion over the last few years, Matt’s been there. In fact, he’s been behind some of the largest collaborative affiliate promotions I’ve ever been a part of. He’s helped promote Michael Hyatt’s products and a few others too, helping them make millions of dollars in the process. He’s here today to tell you how to find people to become affiliates for your products, even if you’re just getting started. (And if you are just getting started, Matt has a special challenge for you, so make sure you listen to the end!) He’s also delving into a whole array of strategies and nitty-gritty tactics for starting your affiliate program and making the most of the affiliate relationships you create.

Even if you don’t have any products to sell yet, this episode will have you primed to take advantage of that process in the future. Working with affiliates is one of the best strategies for growing your online business, and it can be as fun as it is rewarding. Let’s dive in!

Check out Matt’s free report for finding affiliates for your business at MattMcWilliams.com/spi.

If you haven’t subscribed yet, please do, and be sure to check out the archives for more great episodes. You can subscribe via iTunes right here.

A lot of listeners have been asking me about how to start a podcast. If you’re wondering too then you’re in luck, because I have a free, three-day mini course that will get you up and running! Podcasting is an amazing way to share a message and connect with more people—it’s been life changing for me. Just go to HowtoStartaPodcast.com to get started!

Today have a special announcement. If you haven’t heard, it’s been ten years since I got let go from my job, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I celebrate Let Go Day every year, and this year I’m launching something special: A Kickstarter campaign for the first ever hardcover, coffee table-style edition of Let Go. This book is all about my journey from getting let go to becoming an entrepreneur. Most importantly, it’s about letting go of who you thought you were supposed to be and moving forward. For anyone looking for a boost of energy, you can grab the hardcover edition in this campaign. You can also get a special limited edition of the book, tickets to my first ever live event next year, access to me as a coach or speaker, and more! Check that out at SmartPassiveIncome.com/tenyears.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.

Special thanks to Matt McWilliams for joining me this week. Until next time!



You’ll Learn

  • How Matt McWilliams went from golf instructor to affiliate marketing expert.
  • How to start your affiliate marketing program without spending a penny.
  • The easiest way to find affiliates for your product or service.
  • What (beyond a link) to provide to your affiliates.
  • What to do if there’s no affiliate program automatically connected to your product.
  • What to pay your affiliates, and why affiliates are essential for your business’s growth.
  • How to encourage your affiliates to promote heavily and effectively in a short time period.
  • Why the lead up time to a launch is the most important for affiliate strategies.
  • Why Matt and his team are using more direct mail leading up to launches (rather than email).
  • The biggest mistakes you can make with your affiliates (and how to avoid them).
  • Why you should share testimonials and results with your affiliates, and more!

Resources

How Paul Collins Overcame Childhood Illness to Become a Successful Entrepreneur

Welcome to our second SPI community member feature! On our SPI Facebook Group, we have over 40,000 amazing entrepreneurs across all stages of business, and I wanted to start highlighting some of the amazing work the community members are doing with their businesses here on the blog.

Brendan Hufford, our Facebook Community manager, wrote this post to highlight Paul Collins, whose business focuses on teaching English as a second language.

You can also check out Brendan and his work at his blog.

And if you haven’t done so already, click here to join the Facebook Group and be a part of the community!

“Why would anybody pay for this?”

That’s a question Paul Collins asked himself as he was starting his business, English Transformation, which focuses on teaching people how to speak English as a second language.

He was launching his business in a saturated marketplace, which included powerhouse language businesses such as:

  • Rosetta Stone, which is publicly traded and had $265 million in revenue in 2013
  • Babbel, which raised $22 million in 2015
  • Duolingo, which raised $75 million in 2017 at a $700 million valuation

How could Paul possibly compete with those businesses?

But Paul has drive and determination, two traits he developed as a child struggling with illness. According to his doctor in London, Paul suffered from the worst case of eczema in the United Kingdom from age one to twenty-four. Sometimes, he could barely walk, get dressed, or even function.

When he was 13, his eczema cleared up for a short time. However, he would later learn that the reason his symptoms cleared up was because his body was battling something else: liver cancer. Paul was told, at points, that he wouldn’t live another 48 hours. Thankfully, he survived the cancer, only to see his eczema return worse than ever.

But struggling with his health was all that Paul had ever known, so the resilience that it bred in him has always been there.

In 2004, Paul met a man that would change his life. Paul was on a boat, trying to put on two wetsuits and getting ready to scuba dive when the man asked Paul if he had a problem with his liver. Amazed that somebody could know this just by looking at him, Paul would go on a journey of discovery where he not only learned how to heal himself physically but also mentally.

This man took one look at Paul and said, “Come and see me and I’ll teach you how to breathe.” Paul thought to himself, ”OK, buddy. I’m all right, thanks. I know how to breathe just fine.”

But at this time, Paul was always carrying around an asthma inhaler to help him breathe and a tube of steroid cream for his eczema. The final decision for Paul to go see this acquaintance was when he started to have suicidal ideation–even going so far as to write a goodbye letter to his relatives. It was then he decided it was time to pull out all the stops.

The man took Paul to the beach near his home on the Gold Coast, Australia, and lead Paul through Qi Gong—a holistic system of coordinated body posture and movement, breathing, and meditation used in the belief that it promotes health, spirituality—martial arts training, and a variety of meditations. He taught Paul his Breathe Enhancement Technique as well as The Geno-Type Diet.

He told Paul to throw away the inhaler. Paul took his advice and hasn’t used one since. Within a few weeks, Paul was running around the local park doing things he’d never have been able to do. “Basically, I became ‘normal.’ I was able to do things that other people take for granted,” he says.

After that, his eczema, asthma, and cancer didn’t return. Paul was left with only half a liver due to the cancer, but he wouldn’t trade his health struggles for the world, as they shaped him into the type of entrepreneur who wades, unflinching, into the deep waters of building a business.

Despite never attending college or university due to his chronic illness, Paul was able to attain a position as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher, something nearly impossible without a degree.

While teaching ESL in Australia, Paul noticed that his students were not getting the services that they expected and deserved. While working at a failing school, Paul started his own courses from his home office in the afternoons. One day, while he was looking for office space with a friend (who also taught ESL), Paul met with a group looking for International English Language Testing System (IELTS) instructors.

Six months later, after the school Paul was teaching at closed, he decided to go all-in on his own business.

Diving Into a Saturated Market

Seeing the local market opportunity, Paul and his friend (who would become his business partner) paid no attention to big players like Duolingo and Rosetta Stone. “I honestly didn’t really give it too much thought. Maybe that was out of arrogance, or maybe it was stupidity,” says Paul.

While there are a lot of solutions out there to teach English, Paul specifically helps people pass the IELTS exam, a high-stakes English exam. It is an extremely challenging test for most people, including native speakers. So, they are not only teaching a language but the specifics of how to reach a particular score on a test.

Paul set himself apart with an integrated approach (which he also refers to as “blended learning”) that result in students having the highest level of IELTS and ESL knowledge. This means they integrate personal development aspect into all of our sessions as nearly all of their students suffer from anxiety, worry, and a myriad of other problems from trying to pass a constantly changing exam.

“Really, we believe that the human aspect is essential to improving at a language,” says Paul. “That’s one of the main reasons why we have our online courses, and still provide face-to-face sessions, either with one of us directly or with one of our tutors. We aim to expand this with a pay-as-you-go app service. Students need the connection for clarification and correction of their work and progress. Yes, it’s more time consuming for us, but we also get to provide work for others and a better service to our clients.”

Sadly, says Paul, many other businesses in the market provide a sub-par, and in many cases incorrect, product. “It’s just wrong and doesn’t help the student,” Paul says. His students often tell him they have learned more through English Transformation in a few hours than they did in weeks or months at a traditional school or trying to learn via YouTube videos.

Staying Afloat in Rough Waters

Paul’s journey hasn’t been without its setbacks. In fact, one of his biggest mistakes was, ironically, over-thinking some things and not thinking others through fully.

Things that Paul should have paid attention to, like his bookkeeping (which he refers to as “the boring side of business”) actually cost him quite a bit in penalties and government fines until he brought on his wife as a bookkeeper.

For example, in deciding on a platform for their online courses, Paul caught a case of “analysis paralysis” as he fully educated himself on every single platform possible, reading multiple reviews and comparisons of each. As you might expect, Paul settled on hosting his online courses with Teachable for its mix of ease-of-use, price, and design. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, Pat receives compensation if you purchase through this link.]

Another mistake, which cost Paul dearly, was going into a deal with an international partner. They partnered with a friend of a friend to license teachers in another country and were never paid for their work. In the end, they had to pay the teachers out of their pockets and walk away. In retrospect, Paul says, “I knew it was not the right move but whether it was greed or hope or something, I went along with the idea. I did stop it sooner than others were willing to when the gut feeling got too strong, but by then it was a little late.”

Since then, they’ve had numerous requests to partner with others or take on investment, but Paul and his partner have learned from their mistakes and are much more wary this time around.

Navigating these rough waters was possible because he took action on what he was learning from Pat and Smart Passive Income. Some of the resources that helped Paul grow his business include:

First, simply seeing that Pat had lost his job and created a blog to teach people how to pass a test. Although his business is in a different market, Paul simply mirrored that effort and had a path to move forward.

Next, it was Pat’s short video on how to start a website. Within a few minutes, Paul had his own website up and running.

Additionally, here are six podcast episodes that had a huge impact on Paul:

  • Episode 25: More Online Business Success Stories from People Who Don’t Teach Others How to Make Money Online. Paul says, “It was great to hear that folks could make money without teaching people how to make money. . . I guess for all of [the guests] I liked their ‘Go For It!’ attitude. I’m still developing that as I go.”
  • Episode 37: Monetizing in A Hobby Niche – Success Story, Interview Series 3. “I loved how [the guest] ran webinars and repackaged the content into information products. I also liked how the guest talked about being genuine and using her personality as is, remaining natural which is what I think people connect with. That’s what we do too.”
  • Episode 38: World Domination and The $100 Start-up with Chris Guillebeau. “I listened to the audio book before I heard the podcast. What’s not to like about this? I liked how he talks about a product that people can get for free, but that they pay for out of convenience. Everyone should read Chris’ book for sure.”
  • Episode 44 and Episode 45: How to Win with Your Email List Parts 1 and 2, respectively. “I loved all of the DOs and DON’Ts of email marketing, particularly where to place sign-up forms. Also, the way Pat includes the fact that he has posts with affiliate links, but emphasizes that he won’t give them in this post and doesn’t expect listeners to use the links unless they felt they gained value. In episode 45, the GOLD was what to include, when to include it and how to time your email sequence.”
  • Episode 49: Being Everywhere and Building a Community Around A Product Niche with Brendan Hufford. “I liked the fact that Brendan was teaching and running this in his spare time. The real niche aspect was cool too. Another few things that I liked were the laid-back style he talked about using on the site and the business idea that came from the project. Helping others while you help yourself is super cool.”

Setting His Sails

Currently, Paul’s business makes around $15k AUD per month (roughly $11k USD per month at time of publishing). This can fluctuate quite a bit month to month, but this breakthrough of income has only come recently. Much of the income has come on the back of offering online courses and a self-published book.

But for Paul, it’s not just about money. Owning his own business has enabled him to live life (mostly) on his own terms. If he wants to spend the afternoon in the pool with his daughters who are two and seven, he can.

What’s next for Paul? He wants to continue to grow his business and keep telling the story of how he’s been able to heal so radically from his childhood illness and go on to become a successful entrepreneur.

If you’re inspired by Paul’s story, check out Pat’s awesome free course on how to Build Your Own Brand. And be sure to join our SPI Facebook Community to get to know other entrepreneurs like Paul! Hope to see you there.

SPI 322: How “The Rideshare Guy” Created a Business Helping Uber and Lyft Drivers

The other day I asked my Uber driver if he’d ever heard of a guy named Harry Campbell. “Isn’t that The Rideshare Guy?” he asked. And that’s exactly who we have on the podcast today!

Harry is the creator of TheRidshareGuy.com and author of The Rideshare Guide and he helps people who drive for rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft. He shows them how to make more money—essentially how to have a better career driving for rideshare services. I also caught up with him recently on an episode of Tactics in a Tesla on my YouTube channel—if you’ve ever been interested in driving for Lyft or Uber, that episode is a great place to start.

I just had to get Harry on the podcast as well, so today we’re talking about how he did this, how he’s growing his blog, and how he’s serving over 200,000 unique visitors per month. Harry’s story is so much more than just a story about a rideshare guy—this is an inspiring journey for anyone who’s thinking about launching a business in a niche market. This is a great example of how to stand out, how to monetize, ways to think about your content strategy, and so much more. We even talk about how someone could use rideshare driving as a way to network and even sell for your business. There’s a lot to dive into today, so let’s get to it!

I want to give a big shout out to my email service provider, ConvertKit, for just being on top of it. I’m sure you’ve heard about the recent GDPR stuff—well they were some of the first to come out with information about how to stay on top of that. This tool is amazing for getting your email list up and running and it’s full of fantastic automation features like tagging and segmenting. If you want to get a forty-five day free trial—you can’t get this anywhere else—check it out at SmartPassiveIncome.com/convertkit45. [Full Disclosure: I’m a compensated advisor and an affiliate for ConvertKit.]

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.

Special thanks to Harry Campbell for joining me this week. Until next time!



You’ll Learn

  • How Harry transitioned from a career in aerospace engineering to the world of Lyft and Uber.
  • How Harry validated his rideshare blog before he launched it.
  • What strategies Harry uses to get feedback from the rideshare community.
  • How to stand out when you’re getting established in any niche.
  • How a missed high-level media opportunity pushed Harry to quit his day job.
  • What revenue streams Harry created for his business and how they work.
  • How Harry’s team is structured, and when and why he decided to outsource help.
  • How Harry strategizes his rideshare content.
  • Why Harry wrote his new book, The Rideshare Guide.
  • How rideshare driving can open up opportunities to sell, network, validate, and more!

Resources

10 Free Themes for Your WordPress Site for 2018

There is nothing worse than visiting a website that looks as though it is still set in the 1990’s. As the years go on it is important to update your website’s theme so that you are always using the latest responsive technology. Finding a quality theme that is also free can be hard to find. I’ve sorted through hundreds of free WordPress themes to bring you my top 10 pick.

free-wordpress-themes

Pointers to Consider When Choosing a Theme

For new users of WordPress one of the first questions they come across is Which theme is right for my website? There is no number one theme as every theme meets the needs of a specific niche or eCommerce website. It is important to know the goals of your specific website and find a theme that will enable you to achieve this.

Making a list of what you absolutely need in a theme is a good starting point. This way you can mark off what criteria a specific theme meets and what is does not. There is no point choosing a theme that does not meet the essential needs of your website. Compiling all the suitable theme candidates and then selecting the most appropriate is the best idea. In some cases, there will not be a free theme that will meet the criteria of a website and in that case you may need to look into purchasing a premium theme.

Before deciding on a theme consider the points below:

Simple is Often Better

Although the flashy colors and animations of some themes may appeal to you, they may actually distract potential readers or customers on your website. A highly animated theme can also slow your website down. Choose a theme that allows your potential users ease of access. Aim for a theme with readable text and a simple yet stylish layout. Do not comprise the usability of your website for a ‘flashy theme’. If you look at the layout of the top websites in the world, you will notice they use a basic theme to help them achieve excellent usability.

Ensure the Theme is Responsive & Browser Compatible

A responsive theme is one that adjusts the layout according to what device the user is viewing it from. This means that by choosing a responsive theme, someone using a mobile phone will be able to read your websites content just as easily as someone who is using a computer. This is such an import factor as you may be surprised to learn that usually more than half your user will be viewing your site from a mobile phone. The good thing is the majority of themes these days are responsive.

Furthermore, ensure the theme is compatible with multiple browsers. If they do not mention the compatibility in the theme documentation you should do the due diligence and run a test on some common browsers such as Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

Supports Top Plugins and Multiple Languages

You may not wish to use a variety of plugins to begin with but always think about the future of your website. Choose a theme that supports all of the top WordPress plugins. You never know the scope of your website in the future. Choosing a theme that supports multiple languages can also come in handy if your users will come from across the globe.

Customization Options

Ensure the customization options are enough to make the theme ‘your own’. The customization options are especially important for those users who will not be touching any coding.

Includes Good Support

If you are new to WordPress, choosing a theme that comes with good internet or phone support will help you to set up your website. Look at the type of documentation available for that theme before going ahead and committing to one.

Investigate the Ratings and Reviews of the Theme

To find out if this theme is loved by other users do a quick Google search of the theme name. If multiple users are having issues with the theme or the support you will be sure to hear about it. Choosing a popular theme that is used across a number of websites is always one way to ensure it will be maintained regualrly.

10 Free Themes Perfect for a Range of Websites

Mallow – A Simple Magazine Theme

by Fancy Themes 

The Mallow theme is used on over 3000 websites and the best part is, the lite version is completely free. This theme enables you to create a simple blog style website. Using this theme you are able to add a custom logo, it is SEO friendly, it is fully responsive, has complete browser support and is updated regularly. This is a simple yet stable theme suitable for bloggers who are hoping to achieve a ‘magazine’ style website.

mallow-theme

Storefront – A Suitable Theme for WooCommerce Users

by WooCommerce Core Developers 

For those user of WooCommerce who wish to have an eCommerce style site, the Storefront theme is an obvious choice. This free theme, created by WooCommerce themselves allows you to customize the layout and colors to suit your site. This theme is responsive and incorporates multiple widget areas which enables you to promote your products in a number of ways to those using a number of devices.

storefront-theme-wordpress

Shop Isle – A Suitable Theme for an eCommerce Website

by Codeinwp 

Actively installed on over forty thousand sites, this theme is perfect for users of the WooCommerce platform. Shop Isle gives you the ability to display your products in a grid gallery display making it a suitable choice for a large range of stores. When using this theme, your homepage can have a large full-screen image along with a responsive blog sector. Furthermore, Shop Isle is compatible with widely used plugins such as JetPack.

shopisle-theme-wordpress

Kale – A Food Blog Theme

by Lyrathemes 

A simple blog theme perfect for recipe and food websites. This theme includes a front page with featured posts along with the option to show a post slider. Adding social media to this theme and integrating with WooCommerce is a breeze. Kale is a regularly updated theme that is used on over twenty thousand websites.

kale-free-wordpress-theme

Envy Blog – A Minimalist Blogging Theme

by Precise Themes

Envy Blog gives you the ability to show case your literature with a simple featured image attached. This is the ideal theme for those who primarily blog on one topic such as travel, fashion or food. This theme is fully responsive and is currently used on just over four thousand sites.

envy-free-wordpress-theme

Nikkon – A Theme for Photographers

by Kaira

Nikkon is a heavily picture based theme that allows artists to show off their works in differing block sizes. This theme can then be integrated with WooCommerce for those who wish to sell their works of art. Using Nikkon you can add multiple header menus, footer menus and choose from an array of page templates.

nikkon-free-wordpress-theme

Crimson Rose – A Feminine Theme

by Chris Baldelomar 

Crimson Rose is a feminine theme that allows you to create a simple blog or sell items from a shop page. The inbuilt search bar allows users to easily search your blog posts and products while the feminine colors and text draws users attention. This is a relatively new theme with just over two thousand active installs.

crimson-rose-free-wordpress-theme

Mission News – A Newspaper Article Theme

by Ben Sibley

A basic theme used primarily to post about news related topics. Mission News gives you an easy to read platform to post articles that has a ‘New York Times’ feel. This theme allows you two add three columns of content to neatly display your latest news articles. Currently this theme is actively used on over three thousand sites.

mission-news-free-theme-for-wordpress

Bard – A Personal Blogging Theme

by Royal Flush 

An elegant them perfect for a personal blog about lifestyle, fitness, travel or beauty. This theme is mobile friendly and can be used with an WooCommerce shop. Bard uses the best SEO practices and gives you the option to incorporate social media on your site. A great, free WordPress theme for beginners.

bard-free-wordpress-theme

Hitchcock – A Minimal Portfolio Theme for Designers

by Anders Noren

Hitchcock is a popular theme for designers and photographers. This theme allows one to showcase their works of art. Hitchcock is a theme that can be customized through the addition of social icons, custom accent color and custom header images. This theme is actively used on over ten thousand websites.

hitchcock-free-wordpress-theme


10 Free Themes for Your WordPress Site for 2018 originally posted at TipsAndTricks-HQ

SPI 321: Earn More Media Exposure (At Any Level) with Christina Nicholson

There is one aspect of running a business that doesn’t get talked about nearly enough, and that’s public relations (PR) and mainstream media. It’s also something that I don’t teach, and that’s because, hey, I don’t know it. But I have someone on the show today who is a media and PR wizard—Christina Nicholson, from MediaMavenandMore.com, and she’s about to deliver a masterclass in business PR.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us want more media exposure, we just have no idea how to go about getting it. Well, Christina’s about to give us the rundown, which is good because the media and PR world changes super fast. Christina was on the show just two years ago, and she’s already back because she has so much new information to share.

Whether you’re just starting out or you have a reputable brand that you know could benefit from better exposure, you owe it to yourself to get out there and start driving traffic to your website through media and PR. As Christina says in the episode, don’t be afraid to promote yourself and put yourself out there. The worst that can happen is people say no.

I’m so thrilled to have Christina back on the show today, so don’t miss out—put that phone in your pocket and let’s get started!

If you want to get a taste of what Christina’s mentorship program is like, you can get exclusive access to the first couple modules at MediaMavenandMore.com/spi. Christina is a member of my Accelerator Program and a student of mine. I’m not an affiliate or an official partner of Media Maven, but I certainly encourage you to check that out—it’s awesome. Thanks so much for this special inside look, Christina!

I know a lot of you are starting out in your email marketing journey, and to help you do that I highly recommend ConvertKit. They have the most amazing customer service—if you’re just starting out, or even if you’re migrating from another internet service provider, they’ll get you set up super quickly. Plus the platform itself is super intuitive: You’ll be up and running in no time. They also do a ton in terms of educating their customers with the latest trends in email marketing and more, because they want to see you do well. You can get a free, 45-day free trial by going to SmartPassiveIncome.com/convertkit45. Check it out! [Full Disclosure: I’m a compensated advisor and an affiliate for ConvertKit.]

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.

Special thanks to Christina Nicholson for joining me this week. Until next time!



You’ll Learn

  • How to utilize mainstream media and PR if you’re just starting out.
  • The difference between your own, earned, and paid media, and when to use which.
  • What you should know about journalists and reporters in terms of your PR.
  • Strategies for finding the best media channels and reaching your ideal customers.
  • How personal branding factors into the 2018 media/PR field.
  • How to effectively pitch to and network with media/PR contacts.
  • What you should do beyond simply sharing your exposure to maximize its effectiveness.
  • How your online presence can make or break your PR reach.
  • Strategies and tips for using HARO (Help a Reporter Out) for media and PR exposure.
  • How to seize the opportunity and make the most of viral exposure.
  • Why becoming a member of the media can boost your credibility, and more!

Resources

SPI 320: How to Run a Contest to Build Your Email List and Grow Your Brand with Noah Kagan

Noah Kagan’s back today to talk about online viral contests and giveaways: a slice of the marketing pie that’s often overlooked. These are contests or giveaways in which the audience can take actions to gain more entries, which in turn spreads the word about the contest itself even more. It’s a fantastic, symbiotic strategy that I’ve used very successfully myself in growing my YouTube channel (now over 100k subscribers!). Plus, Noah’s got an amazing contest to announce today as well—enter for a chance to win all of my courses, a year of KingSumo Pro, and a year subscription to my Smart Podcast Player—a combined value over $1,500! [See below for rules and disclaimer.]

Noah and his team developed a tool called KingSumo, and it’s amazing. It can help you grow your YouTube channel, podcast subscribers, and social media following simultaneously. Plus, it’s completely free, it’s web-based, and it’s super effective. I’ve used it to attract as many as 1,000 new subscribers in a single day!

Marketing through contests and giveaways has been essential for Noah; it’s actually been responsible for 30 percent of revenue for AppSumo, one of his companies. Today, he’s breaking down how KingSumo can be used to create viral online contests. He’s also walking us through some of the ways that viral giveaways work so well, tips and tricks for your own giveaways, and what’s next for KingSumo. If you want to learn how to grow your online following fast, this is the episode for you!

Make sure you check out Noah’s tips below for some fast-paced takeaways that you can refer back to after you listen to the episode! And if you want a free checklist, head over to KingSumo.com/spi.

I want to give a quick shout out to another amazing tool I love–Teachable. From an insider perspective, Teachable has amazing tools to help course creators better serve their students. I’m so grateful for this company. They’re constantly introducing new features because we, the course creators, request them. They love helping us to help our students succeed. If you’re thinking about creating an online course and want a platform that’s super easy to use, check out Teachable.com/pat and you’ll get some freebies as well.

Create Your Own Contest with KingSumo & Win BIG!

One thing I love about having Noah on the show is that he always leaves us with a challenge. The first time he was on the show (Episode 71) he challenged the audience to get over the fear of asking for things by asking for a discount at Starbucks.

Well, Noah’s got another challenge for us today, and this time the prize is big. If you win, you get access to all of my courses, plus a year subscription to my Smart Podcast Player, and a year subscription to KingSumo Pro. That’s right, all of my courses: 1•2•3 Affiliate Marketing, Smart From Scratch, Power-Up Podcasting, a year of my Smart Podcast Player premium podcast player, and a year of KingSumo Pro. I’ll even include my Advanced Power-Up Podcasting course, which releases later this year. This prize package is worth over $1,500!

We’re running this contest for two weeks starting today, and on June 13, Noah and I will select a winner. (Don’t worry, we won’t be selecting based on the number of entries you get to your contest—that wouldn’t be fair.) All you have to do to enter is listen to this episode, create a contest with KingSumo, and link to it in the show notes. That’s it! At the very least, we hope this encourages you to take action and try running an online contest on your own. Don’t forget to check out Noah’s tips below, and his free tip sheet at KingSumo.com/spi.

Disclaimer


There are multiple legal considerations that you should familiarize yourself with before deciding to run a contest or giveaway online. KingSumo will provide you with some great information, however please consult with your own legal counsel and/or attorney as applies to your own situation before running an online contest or giveaway. I will not be held liable for any damages incurred as a result of using KingSumo or running your own contest or giveaway online.

Noah’s Tips

So, a lot of people ask themselves, “do viral giveaways really work?” Well the short answer is yes, they absolutely do. But beyond that, here are three common misconceptions about viral giveaways and/or contests, as well as some useful tips:

Misconception 1: People Who Enter Giveaways are Bad Subscribers
This one is the big one—a lot of people think that the people who enter giveaways are just looking for a freebie, and so they’re not “real” subscribers. However, KingSumo has found that as many as 40-50 percent of giveaway subscribers stay on board; contest subscribers have been responsible for 30 percent of AppSumo’s revenue! To make the most of your new subscribers:

  • Use a double opt-in procedure via email.
  • Give away a narrow product your ideal customers would be excited about but others wouldn’t—so products that are specific to your audience.
  • Three months after your giveaway, unsubscribe anyone who hasn’t opened or clicked any emails (you can do this through most email service providers).

Misconception 2: You Need a Huge Audience
This is absolutely not true. If you have small audience, here’s nine things you can do for free to boost your contest or giveaway:

  1. Post on your LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
  2. Post the day before your giveaway ends.
  3. Email your mailing list.
  4. Add a badge to your website (use Sumo.com).
  5. Grab your LinkedIn Contacts and email them (recommended to only do this once—don’t spam!).
  6. Text ten people on your phone.
  7. Post in Facebook groups relevant to your giveaway.
  8. Submit your contest/giveaway on a subreddit like /r/giveaways or /r/gardening.
  9. Make a YouTube video about your giveaway.

Misconception 3: You Need a Huge Prize
This is 100 percent not true. Noah’s proof: He got 6,411 email subscribers by giving away a Seth Godin book collection that cost him $60!

How to Start a Giveaway with KingSumo

  1. Go to KingSumo.com and sign up for a free account.
  2. Start simple: Give away an hour of your consulting time, a free product, or a free book collection.
  3. Configure bonus entry options: These are things like Facebook likes, Instagram follows, YouTube subscriptions, and podcast listeners. One thing that a lot of people don’t realize is how much of your audience isn’t following you on other channels.
  4. Share your giveaway with your email list, social following, friends, etc, and keep sharing!

For a free checklist of these tactics Go to KingSumo.com/spi.

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.

Special thanks to Noah Kagan for joining me this week. Until next time!



You’ll Learn

  • How Noah discovered viral giveaways and created KingSumo.
  • Why KingSumo is now a free app, and what’s coming in its future.
  • How to boost YouTube and social media subscribers, even if you don’t have that many yet.
  • Strategies for attracting subscribers from the start to the end of your giveaway.
  • How long you should run your contest or giveaway for.
  • How to convert subscribers into customers who make a real impact on your business.
  • Why Noah is so excited about what’s next for KingSumo.
  • What Noah’s working on personally, what charities he’s passionate about, and more!

Resources

How to Get More Email Subscribers (17 Lead Magnet Ideas)

Want to learn how to get more email subscribers? One of the best ways to do so is through a tried-and-true method: offering a lead magnet—a valuable piece of content—in exchange for someone’s email address.

Now, hopefully you’re not trying to get people to join your list by saying, “Hey, subscribe to my newsletter.” If you’re doing that, you’re basically just saying, “Hey, I’m going to send you more emails!” People don’t want more emails. People want something of value in exchange for joining your email list.

So what can you give them in exchange for their email address? Today I’m going to share seventeen ideas for lead magnets you can offer. (Yes, seventeen!)

How Not To Build Your Lead Magnet

But before we get to that, I want to share an important tip. You see, times have changed. Back in the day, when I started building my email list, it was hip to offer the biggest, most comprehensive lead magnet possible—I’m talking a thirty-to-fifty-page ebook or PDF file. But this is no longer something people want to download. They don’t want to spend their time slogging through fifty pages—they want the quick hits, the information that will let them hit the ground running.

With that in mind, here are seventeen quick-hit lead magnets you can offer right now to grow your audience.

#1: Resource List

People love lists of tools and resources they can use to gain an advantage or do something more conveniently. By creating a simple list of such items, you can deliver a lot of value and give people something they will happily exchange their email address to get. Let’s say you have a photography blog, for example. You could create a list of the five tools a photographer should be using to edit their files more quickly, or to get better lighting in their photos. Almost any kind of list will work; just create a simple one with valuable tips and tools, and people are going to want to trade their address for it. Clay Collins, founder of LeadPages, was a guest on SPI Podcast Session #78, where he talked in-depth about how to rapidly grow your email list. The episode comes complete with resources and tools, and his advice still continues to work strongly today.

#2: Quick-Start Guide

Teaching people something they can do quickly is another great way to get email addresses. If you’re that photography blogger from above, you could offer a quick-start guide on how to use a particular kind of camera. Or a quick-start guide on using Photoshop or InDesign. Offering a quick start guide is a quick-start way to grow your email list.

#3: Cheat Sheet

A cheat sheet is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a one- or two-page PDF file containing the top tips to help a person go through a specific process that would otherwise take them a lot longer. A cheat sheet is similar to a quick-start guide, but it’s usually more condensed. For example, I offer a //static.leadpages.net/leadboxes/current/embed.js cheat sheet for people who want to start a podcast. My buddy David Siteman Garland offers one for people who want to start an online course. [Full Disclosure: As an affiliate, I receive compensation if you purchase through this link.]

For those of you who are old enough, cheat sheets remind me of the Game Genie, back when I played Nintendo. It was a device you plugged into your console and boom, you could walk through a level much faster, jump much higher, or start out a game with ninety-nine lives. So just like the Game Genie, you’re going to offer your audience a quick way to gain an advantage using your cheat sheet—and chances are they’re going to be excited to exchange their email address for it. We use this same strategy on this landing page we created dedicated to the podcast cheat sheet you can download for free here.

#4: Video Answer

You can record a video answer to one of the most pressing questions your audience has. So for somebody who’s brand new to your website, what is likely their number one question? Answer that in a video, then give them access to that video after they subscribe to your list.

#5: Checklist

A checklist is another great lead magnet. Let’s say you teach Facebook marketing. There’s likely a set of specific steps a person needs to take to go from zero to running a successful Facebook ad campaign. You could, in exchange for their email address, offer a handy checklist of the twenty things they need to do to succeed with that campaign. Whether you’re an expert in Facebook marketing or something else, think about a process you know well, write down all the steps, then format the list with checkboxes so your readers can follow along and track their progress. Then give it away in exchange for an email subscription! Amy Porterfield is a great example of how to do this well. She provides her podcast audience with checklists as “content upgrades,” to help them learn and integrate everything she teaches on her show. She’s providing a ton of value, and collecting emails at the same time!

#6: Email Scripts

If your area of expertise involves teaching people how to communicate via email, simply giving people email scripts they can copy and paste and tweak with their own voice can be very valuable. Writing emails is one of the hardest things to do for some people, and having a script to work from can save them time and anxiety. So make it easier for them by giving them a starting point.

#7: Mini-Course

A mini-course is a short training that’s hosted on a platform like Teachable. [Full Disclosure: I’m a compensated advisor and an affiliate for Teachable.] It can be an entire short course, or a portion of a longer course you offer. Either way, the idea is to deliver a ton of value in a small package while showing the person that you’re serious about helping them learn. By giving away your mini-course for free, you’re showing them how much amazing value you have to offer, so that you can upsell them something bigger later on. A good example of this is from Caleb Wojcik, who does all my video production. On his website, CalebWojcik.com, he offers a free mini-course on how to use Adobe Premiere to edit videos, which he uses to collect email address while delivering a lot value and promoting his premium course to subscribers.

#8: Email Mini-Course

Instead of a mini-course that lives on a platform like Teachable, you can offer an email-based course. An email mini-course is a great option because it’s high value and easy to set up, as it lives right in your email system. After someone subscribes to your list, they’ll receive an email each day with one lesson from the course. You can find an example of this over at 100emails.com, where I teach people how to go from zero to one hundred email subscribers in just seventy-two hours using three daily email lessons. And I built it easily using ConvertKit, my email service provider. [Full Disclosure: I’m a compensated advisor and an affiliate for ConvertKit.]

#9: Book Chapter

If you’ve written a book, or are thinking about writing one, you can offer your first chapter for free in exchange for someone’s address. Now, this is a really cool lead magnet idea, because people love books, and sending them a free chapter can give them a feel of what your book’s about—plus, if they like it, they might even want to buy the whole thing! And, you know, it’s also a great way to ask for their email address.

#10 Course Module

In a similar way, if you have an online course, you can take a module from that course—maybe your favorite module, or just the first one—and make it available in exchange for an email address. It’s a great way to show people exactly how you teach and what the course is like, which makes them potentially more likely to upgrade to the full course. And if they’re not ready to do that yet, you still have the opportunity to nurture them because you’ve collected their email address.

#11: Quiz

You can also offer a quiz with results that will help people. A good example of this comes from Michael Hyatt, who at the end of each year offers his Best Year Ever course in exchange for joining his email list. I take this course every single year, and it’s a quiz—a “life score” assessment that helps you look at how you’re doing in all the different areas of your life, along with what you can do to get to the next level in areas where you want to improve. I love this lead magnet, because it’s interactive and provides a lot of value. It’s way different from something your subscribers just download; it’s something they can actually participate in, which makes it potentially great for driving email subscriptions. One of the entrepreneurs in my accelerator group, Monica Louie, uses a Facebook Ad Quiz to collect email addresses. The quiz helps people figure out what their next steps should be when it comes to creating Facebook ads, but she’s also building her list at the same time.

#12: Template

This next one is awesome for business owners who do a lot of teaching via platforms like YouTube: offering a template people can build on to create something. For example, if you teach podcasting, you could offer a free GarageBand file that contains a few audio elements in it that people can use to start building their own podcast episodes. You’re giving them a headstart, which is always appreciated, and definitely worth trading an email address for.

#13: Transcript

If you do any video or podcasting, you can take your transcripts—the text files with the words you’ve recorded—and put them into a PDF file, then offer it in exchange for an email address. Some people aren’t going to be interested in listening to or watching something; they’ll want to read it instead. And also, because it’s in a handy file, they can print it out, and take notes on it if they like. James Schramko of SuperFastBusiness does this, by creating transcripts of his podcast episodes that are only accessible by joining his email list, and he’s told me that it’s helped a lot in growing his list.

#14: Bonus Audio

Let’s say you have a lot of written content on your blog. You can take some of it, and turn it into audio content—MP3 files that people can download and get access to after they give you their email address. This is another smart way of reusing your valuable content, because often people aren’t able to sit down and read, and just want to listen on the go.

#15: Contact List

Instead of a resource list of tools, you can tap into your Rolodex (remember those?) to create a list of people who are on your list who others should know about. By offering your contact list, it’s almost like a way to get involved with the network you’ve built—and this works in both directions. You’re providing a lot of value to your subscribers by connecting them with experts who can help them, and you’re also sending the people in your network new potential subscribers and clients of their own. So it’s a win for everybody!

#16 Live Training

I know a lot of people who teach a live training every week or month, and they’ll offer a free “seat” in that webinar in exchange for someone’s email address. So, pick a date in the future when you’re going to teach something. Then invite people to register, whether it’s in your web page sidebar, at the bottom of a blog post, or on your Facebook page. Voilà! They’re on your list.

#17: Webinar Recording

Instead of offering access to a live webinar, you can offer access to a prerecorded one. For this one, it can help to create a live training first (i.e., #16), then make the recording available for people afterward, so it’s all automated.

There you have it—seventeen different lead magnets and incentives you can create to get more people on your email list! You now have no excuse not to do this. I think you’ll find that by offering something of real value—and not just a promise of more emails—people will be much happier to say yes to joining your list, and much more likely to open your future emails, too.

SPI 319: How to Work Less & Make More with James Schramko

James Schramko is as passionate about surfing as he is about working less, earning more, and helping people learn how to do exactly that. If you’ve ever wanted to design a truly fulfilling lifestyle, you’re going to want to take notes, because that’s what James is all about.

James has been rocking it in online business for ten years now, and quite literally surfing the world at the same time. He’s been able to design the lifestyle he always wanted, but that didn’t happen overnight, and James strives to share what he’s learned. Whenever I hear him speak I’m at peak attention—his methods and mindsets are so powerful and inspirational.

James is also the author of the new book Work Less, Make More, and that title pretty much sums up what he’s all about. James has shaped the lives of thousands of people by helping them build the lifestyles that they want to live. On today’s show, James describes how he went from being a top BMW salesman to owning his own business and redesigning his lifestyle. He lays down useful methods for reinvesting in your business, directing cash flow, and the business models he used to create a 99.9 percent recurring customer base. He also addresses the obstacles one might face when getting started and offers mindsets and tips for tackling them head-on.

This episode is stuffed with so many amazing takeaways, I might even recommend listening twice. Enjoy!

Thanks for Listening!

To share your thoughts:

To help out the show:

  • Leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.
  • Subscribe on iTunes or download our mobile app.

Special thanks to James Schramko for joining me this week. Until next time!



You’ll Learn

  • James’s story: How he reprogrammed and redesigned his life.
  • How James built a business with 99.9 percent recurring customers.
  • James’s philosophy for reinvesting in your business and hiring a team.
  • Which business models James uses and how he balances them.
  • How to overcome obstacles to developing the life you truly desire.
  • How to reevaluate your mindset about selling, and why it can be an ethical, noble thing to do.
  • What amazing business lesson James learned from his very lazy boss.
  • How James uses one podcast episode a week to drive his business, and more!

Resources

How to Plan Anything (So You Actually Get it Done)

Have you ever tried to plan something and just gotten completely overwhelmed? Today, I’m going to give you my PAT formula for planning anything—along with the one tool I use to make any planning process dead simple.

I’ll dig into the details of the PAT formula in just a minute. But first, the thing I love the most about the PAT formula is it’s applicable to just about anything you might be planning. Maybe you’re building a business, or writing a book. Maybe you’re creating something smaller, like a podcast episode or a blog post. Or maybe you’re planning an event, like a party or a vacation. It could even be something as big as a wedding.

Whatever it is, planning it the right way is really important. Smart planning helps ensure that your event or book comes out great, by providing a clear roadmap to completion. The problem lies in the way our brains work. You see, our brains do a really good job of coming up with a bunch of ideas, but a terrible job of organizing them. And as a result, we get overwhelmed.

That’s what the PAT formula is designed to avoid, so let’s talk about it now.

My Simple Three-Step Formula to Plan Anything

So what is this magic formula that helps you avoid the overwhelm? It involves three steps:

Step 1: Post-it notes
Step 2: Arranging those Post-it notes
Step 3: Taking it and making it

Let’s talk about each step!

Step 1: Post-it Notes

First up is P, which stands for Post-it notes. Post-it notes are my secret to success. I use them to plan almost everything I do. The reason they’re so great is because they let you take all the ideas in your head—the ones that are overwhelming you—and put them onto individual notes, where you can see them all in front of you. And when you can see it, you can deal with it! The size of a Post-it note is also perfect, because each note basically only has enough room for one idea. And because they’re sticky, you can post them on your wall or desk to arrange them and make sense of your ideas.

So, whatever it is you’re planning, the first step is to write down each idea you have on a single Post-it note, and then post that note on your wall or desk. This is the first step in a process called mind-mapping.

Step 2: Arrange

At first, your Post-it notes are probably going to look like a giant mess, and that’s completely fine! That’s why step two of this strategy is A, to arrange. Now that you can see everything, you can deal with it. In this step, you start to organize your notes into clusters. You can also remove ones that don’t belong. These clusters then become the different parts of your vacation, or the chapters of your book, or the sections of your online course.

And then to take it one step further, you’ll take these clusters and give them an order. So within each book chapter, for example, you’ll organize the notes according to different ideas or sections in that chapter. It’s in the second step that you start to make sense of everything. This step is where things get really cool, because now this big project or trip or event you previously had as just a big mess in your head can now start to take shape.

Step 3: Take It and Make It

The third part of this strategy is the T, which is to take it and make it. When you’re ready to work on the project you’ve just outlined, you pick just one idea from one Post-it note, and focus on making it happen. You take it . . . and then you make it. So if you’re writing a book, for example, you take one idea from one chapter, and that’s all you work on writing first. Then when you’re done, you move it aside and focus on the next one. Or maybe you’re planning a party. You know you’ll need some sort of entertainment, so you pull out the “entertainment” Post-it note and start brainstorming some potential options.

The PAT Formula in Action: Writing the Perfect Blog Post

If you want to see the PAT formula in action, check out the video below, which is all about how to write the perfect blog post.

The first thing I talk about in the video is to get clear about the topic and purpose of the post you’re about to write. One way to think about it is this: what’s the transformation you want people to undergo after reading the post?

Once you’ve identified that transformation, and therefore what you want to write about, that’s when the PAT method kicks into action. The last thing you want to do after you start writing is to say, “Okay, where do I want to go with this?” or “What’s next?” You want to have an outline in place beforehand. The transformation is kind of like the address you put in the navigation system in your car. It’s the end goal. The outline is the directions to get there, and you’re not going to get to your destination without them.

So, with that transformation in mind, you can use the PAT formula to work backward and create an outline for your blog post using Post-it notes. The first step is to take all the ideas in your head related to that transformation and put each of them onto a Post-It note. What case studies can you mention? What stories can you tell that will lead people toward this transformation? What supporting points do you need to make?

From there, you can organize all these ideas to create your outline, then take that outline and make your blog post!

Of course, writing a blog post is just one example of how you can put the PAT formula to work for you. As I mentioned earlier, the beauty of the the PAT formula is it can be used in so many different ways.

Before we end things today, let’s quickly recap the PAT formula:

  • First, brain dump using Post-it notes;
  • Then arrange the Post-it notes into groups;
  • And finally, take them and make the thing.

Now, you might be tempted to do this process without Post-it notes—and it can be done—but there’s a lot to be said for having one idea on each Post-it note that you can move around and adjust as needed.

I hope you get a lot of value out of the PAT formula, because it was really a huge game changer for me! It saved me a lot of time, headache, and overwhelm, and I know it can do the same for you. So tell me what you’re planning next. I’d love to know. Best of luck!