Stan Store email automations: how to unlock income on repeat

Stan Store email automations: how to unlock income on repeat

Stan Store email automations: how to unlock income on repeat

Email automations are a big deal. Established e-commerce businesses know they can make more money when they can stay in touch via email: why else would there be pop-ups offering ‘10% off’ in return for your email every time you visit an online store! This is why Stan Store has email automation in its top tier Creator Pro.

Let’s start with the Stan Store basics: at its core, Stan Store is an online sales platform you can use to monetise your social audience. It enables you to sell digital downloads, host online courses, book calendar meetings and deliver a free download (often known as a freebie or lead magnet). This comprehensive set of functionality is available on both Stan Store levels: Creator or Creator Pro.

Creator Pro also includes options for email automations, payment plans, upsells, order bumps and sales funnels – advanced options for making more income, once you have your digital online business established.

This page includes affiliate links. If you click and purchase or sign-up, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I recommend only those tools I have tested and like.

WHAT IS AN EMAIL AUTOMATION?

An email automation involves one or more emails being sent when triggered by an action from someone on your email list. Stan Store email automations are triggered with a purchase. Luckily, Stan Store has a built-in series of five draft emails to send to buyers over three days to prompt an upsell – buying an additional product or ‘next step’ using a discount code.

Upsells like this are based on studies that show that existing customers are more likely to buy from you again and that customer retention rates are key.

Although most of the studies quoted date from 20 to 30 years ago, more recent data from Hubspot shows that marketing costs to acquire customers are increasing.

Stan Store email automation diagram or email flow for increased income.
While many using Stan Store today for e-commerce may be gaining their customers through organic content from platforms like TikTok and Instagram, so sales are often dependent on content and time spent creating and improving it rather than advertising costs, the fact remains: email automations help you sell more for little increased effort.

Stan Store calls its email automations that follow purchases a ‘flow’. It also offers email broadcasts: emails that go out to your list at a time you choose. This might be something like a weekly email you send your list.

If you are already making online sales but not yet using email, I’d suggest moving up to the Stan Store Creator Pro to take the next step.

Click here for a free 14-day trial of Stan Store.

What is Stan Store, how it works  + my review (updated February 2024)

What is Stan Store, how it works + my review (updated February 2024)

What is Stan Store, how it works + my review (updated February 2024)

Stan Store is the new kid on the block in terms of monetisation for content creators, offering shopping for digital products and courses that integrates seamlessly with platforms like TikTok, Facebook and Instagram. And costing from $29 a month with no commission, it’s no wonder you’ll find Stan Stores used by some of the biggest influencers. Here’s a breakdown of what Stan Store is, who might use it and my experience of setting it up.

This page includes affiliate links. If you click and purchase or sign-up, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I recommend only those tools I have tested and like.

WHAT IS STAN STORE AND WHAT DOES IT DO?

Stan Store is an e-commerce shop that allows creators to sell their digital products, host and sell online courses and memberships, sign-up for email lists and book meetings. Creators add Stan Store to their profile link and when visitors click through, the shop looks like part of the platform they’ve just been using, whether that’s Instagram or TikTok. 

Stan Store has a minimal interface, so options to buy, book an appointment or sign-up for an email list are clear. Effectively, it’s the Swiss army knife of monetisation for content creators.

STAN STORE PRICING: HOW MUCH IS STAN STORE?

You can try Stan Store with a 14-day trial, after which it costs $29 at Creator level or $99 a month for Creator Pro. (Pricing correct in February 2024). Both options include the mobile-optimised store, calendar bookings, courses, subscriptions and email sign-up. Creator Pro also has email marketing, funnels, discount codes and upsells, payment plans, affiliate commissions and pixel tracking.

So if you want to sell digital products, have people join your email list, book 1:1 meetings or offer courses/memberships, the $29 Creator option is going to do all that for you. You also have the option of saving on the monthly fee by paying $300 for the annual plan. The Creator Plan annual plan is $948 a year.

One of the huge advantages of Stan Store is that the monthly fee is the only cost. It does not take transaction fees like Stripe or Paypal do. Typically, Stripe charges around 3% of the transaction and a 30c fee per transaction, depending on where you’re located and Paypal charges a similar transaction percentage. With Stan Store, you’re keeping 100% of what you sell; the only cost is the monthly fee.

Click here for a free 14-day trial of Stan Store.

 

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SET UP STAN STORE?

I set up my Stan Store in less than 17 minutes, including:

  • adding my email address + profile photo
  • writing my bio
  • adding social media profiles
  • adding a branding colour
  • setting up Stripe’s payment system; and
  • creating my first product.

I call that nothing short of a miracle, in comparison to having spent DAYS setting up WooCommerce on my WordPress website and the Stripe part of that probably taking an hour or more of multiple steps. Even setting up an Etsy shop took much, much longer and there are fees to pay every time you list a new product. The Stan team has certainly made the experience of setting up a store easier than I thought it was possible to do and I’m impressed.

STAN STORE VERSUS ETSY

Prior to Stan Store, many creators were using Etsy to sell their digital products. As a creative marketplace, Etsy works well to sell digital and physical products, but there’s a major drawback: the moment you send someone to your Etsy store, you’re immediately taking them to your competitors. You’re giving a potential buyer access to similar products from others, which is not good for your sales.

Cost wise, the two have different approaches. Etsy charges a listing fee of 20c every time you create a new product or renew a product listing and 6.5% of all sales. Stan Store does not charge listing or transaction fees – just its one monthly fee of $29 or $99, depending on the level you choose.

While Etsy does have its own traffic, it’s competitive to rank for popular products and requires substantial work on your product title, description and visuals so it’s found in Etsy’s search. Stan Store is designed for traffic that you’ve built on your social channels.

The only time I can see Etsy being the better choice over Stan Store, would be if you were offering a large number of products, which might overwhelm the minimally-designed Stan Store. And even then, if you have significant traffic from one or more social platforms, you might want to move away from Etsy to your own store on something like Shopify or WooCommerce.

HOW DOES STAN STORE COMPARE TO WOOCOMMERCE?

I have a WooCommerce e-commerce store built on my WordPress website and chose to add a Stan Store to use with Instagram and TikTok because of how well it integrates with them. It feels like I’m staying on the original app when I visit the store. In contrast, clicking the link to my website’s WooCommerce product opens up in another window and involves more clicks to get to the checkout than Stan Store. It’s just clunkier and less likely to convert click-throughs into sales because of the extra steps.

WHO USES STAN STORE?

Anyone who monetises their social platforms with digital products, 1:1 appointments or runs courses or memberships would be a good fit for Stan Store. It could also work well for someone with a large following who wants email sign-ups, as the integration with social platforms is so seamless, it is likely to give a better sign-up rate over other options such as a regular website form. You can also use it for external links such as your website if you want.

CAN YOU BUILD A COURSE ON STAN STORE?

Your Stan Store can host courses with multiple modules, text, videos and downloads such as workbooks and checklist PDFs. Each course has its own landing page with an image, course description, reviews and price, to help convert browsers into buyers. The intuitive interface makes creating learning modules straightforward and quick.

I’ve built courses on a number of platforms including WordPress (using LifterLMS), Zenler, Teachable and Thinkific, and Stan Store is BY FAR the easiest platform I’ve used. It’s the only one where I didn’t need to walk away from the laptop to get a break from the tech. 

IS STAN STORE BETTER THAN LINKTREE?

Linktree has one job: it’s a place for links that take the visitor away to other platforms. Stan Store, on the other hand, is a whole e-commerce package that keeps the visitor feeling as if they are still on the platform they came from. The functionality of the two is therefore very different, as is the experience of any visitors.

CAN STAN STORE REPLACE A WEBSITE?

To answer this question, we need to look at what a website is. Websites used to be the only option for finding out everything about a business or a person. Now that we have such active social platforms, sharing what a person or business offers, the combination of that with a Stan Store with its products, appointments and email sign-ups can replace a traditional website.

Another point in favour of social platforms combined with a Stan Store over a traditional website is the rise of platform search or SEO (search engine optimisation). Many people are using social platforms to search for things they may have once used Google for. It makes sense to search for a new London brunch spot or the best aesthetic matcha glasses on Instagram or TikTok over Google results: the results come from accounts that have people behind them we can see, hear and connect with. And with this kind of shift, we want to make the most of our content that may appear in social searches and monetise it.

Stan Store is the simplest, most integrated option for all the technical back-end of online sales. Rather than needing an appointment scheduler, an e-commerce store, a course or membership host and an email sign-up form, it’s all combined in one. Yay for someone dealing with all the technical headaches so easily! Also, with that taken care of, it’s easy to think about creating a mini-course or a PDF product when you can have it online in a few minutes. It allows creators to take action on inspiration in the moment, which can only be a good thing.

 

HOW TO USE STAN STORE

You start by creating your Stan Store. This took  about 17 minutes including creating my first product – a 1:1 Strategy session complete with options to book particular days in my calendar. It starts by asking about your business or niche.

How to set up your StanStore in a few easy steps.

Once you have that and you have verified your email address, you can create as many or as few products as you wish. When you click ‘Add a product’, you’ll see these options:

StanStore: How to create a product

The back end of your Stan Store allows you to see the number of daily click-throughs to your store, the store itself, so you can easily add new products and see immediately how they look in your store, all using a drag and drop builder. It has a separate page for income, listing product sales and email sign-ups, appointments and, if you’re on the Creator Pro level, email flows.

The layout is clean and easy to read and gives you all the numbers you could need to optimise your products and sales.

 

HOW MANY PRODUCTS CAN YOU SELL IN A STAN STORE?

Theoretically, you can sell an unlimited number of products in a Stan Store, however, any more than six can cause sales to drop. This is because a large number of choices can cause people to not buy at all, rather than make a choice, as this study with jam sales found.

If you have many products you would like to sell, here are three options you can test to find out what works best for your store and audience: 
– Offer them all
– List only your best-sellers
– List up to six and test which ones bring in the most revenue / sales. 

CAN YOU HAVE TWO STAN STORES? 

Yes, you can have as many Stan Stores as you like, as long as you create each one with its own email address.  Multiple Stan Stores would work well if you run more than one business or have very different audiences. 

EMAILS AND EMAIL INTEGRATION

You can use Stan Store’s email sign-up in two ways. The first, is to use email flows that are available on the Creator Pro level. The other way is to integrate the sign-up with either built-in provider MailChimp or integrating it with other email providers with Zapier. I integrated the sign-up with my email provider Active Campaign, which I did with one click from a host of options inside Stan Store. So now, anyone signing up for my lead magnet inside Stan Store is automatically added to the right list inside Active Campaign and tagged, so I know where they came from.

IS STAN STORE WORTH IT?

In my opinion, if you have at least one low-priced ticket to sell and are active on at least one platform from Instagram, TikTok or Facebook, then yes. It’s so easy to use, your sales conversion rate is likely to be better than any other platform. It uses Stripe for its card transactions, a trusted name and there is no commission, which I don’t see being offered by any other shopping platform.

It could also be worth it alone if you want to make money from your email list. The email sign-up is so easy to use, that the monthly fee might be worth it for the increase in conversion rates over a regular website sign-up form. Certainly, it’s worth testing for at least the 14 days of the free trial to see if there is an improvement over your current sign-up rate.

To try Stan Store for free, click here for a 14-day trial.

Click here for a free 14-day trial of Stan Store.

FOURTH QUARTER SUCCESS PLAN FOR SERVICE BUSINESSES (UPDATED FOR 2023)

FOURTH QUARTER SUCCESS PLAN FOR SERVICE BUSINESSES (UPDATED FOR 2023)

The fourth quarter of the year is the time when service businesses can hit their yearly goals, even if they’ve not been on target earlier in the year. With Black Friday / Cyber Monday, holiday spending and end-of-year budgets all in the mix, the rewards can be great, but you need to be prepared.

To help you make the most of the fourth quarter, here are some steps you can put in place to maximise your sales and avoid overwhelm, so that when the holidays start, you can relax and enjoy a break.

REVIEW EXISTING CLIENTS AND COMMITMENTS

CLIENTS: The first step in getting ready for the fourth quarter is to look at your existing workload and commitments. Check the client work you already have booked in or that is likely to book. Contact potential clients who have said they want work done at some point and let them know this is their window to book in with their deposit before the year ends. Given you are about to launch promotional plans, your availability is likely to become extremely limited and your clients will appreciate giving them a heads-up now so they can plan too. You might even add in an early bird bonus to galvanise them.

CALENDAR: Also look at your calendar for personal commitments. Now would be a good time to check with family and others in your household about their expectations for the fourth quarter, especially plans for late December and into the new year.

PERSONAL: Are there any tasks you need to do – either personal or business – that you want to complete before the fourth quarter to have them out of the way? This could be anything from a dental check-up to bringing your paperwork up to date. Think of it as clearing the runway!

The goal of this is to assess your workload and to proactively manage your clients and maximise your revenue from existing clients.

YOUR CALENDAR AND DEADLINES

Now you’re going to find out where the other ‘edges’ are in your fourth quarter and define some of your own.

DEADLINES

  • Check with your main suppliers, delivery firms or any other businesses you work with on their holiday deadlines. Put them in your calendar.
  • Based on these, set your own client deadlines with time for you to do your work and including a cushion to cover epic courier failures, mistakes and illness. Add these to your calendar.
  • Tell existing clients about your deadlines, preferably everywhere: social media platforms, social media profiles, newsletters or a one-off email to current clients.

BLACK FRIDAY / CYBER MONDAY DATES

Black Friday 2023 is Friday November 24. Mark this and Cyber Monday on Monday November 27 on your calendar.  Even if you don’t run any Black Friday promotions, this period affects spending patterns, social media ‘noise’ and ad costs, in the 10 days or more leading up to this promotional long weekend.

PLAN THE FOURTH QUARTER

Now that you know the landscape for the final three months or more of the year, you can plan. Big picture planning for most small service-based businesses is best on a few sheets of paper so you can see how everything fits together. I’ve designed a free printable planner of Q4 for 2023 which you can DOWNLOAD HERE. (No email needed).

Choose the promotions you’re going to run, if any. You may already be close to fully booked (go you!) and your main job here is to manage client expectations. If not, then look at your financial goals and plan one or more promotions that could meet those goals, given your availability.

For instance, if you are a yoga teacher who is going to run a Black Friday offer on yearly online class memberships, you might team up with a local artist to create a limited edition yoga mat: those signing up for the year receive one. To do this, you would need to find an artist, set up the commission and have at least one yoga mat printed so that you can check quality and use it to promote your offer. Then you promote it for a week or two leading up to Black Friday.

There are a HUGE number of advantages to being this organised.  For a start, you’re so much more likely to hit your revenue goals. You’re less likely to be overwhelmed and it means you can take advantage of early bird specials or bulk discounts on printing marketing pieces or telling the local newspaper about your yoga mat commission and arranging a photo shoot of you, the artist and the yoga mat.

SUPPLIES CHECK

What are all the supplies you could need for this quarter? Check printer ink, sticky tape, Sharpies, bubble wrap, brown paper, labels, scissors, batteries. Either check everything now and order or make a note on your calendar when you are going to do this.

If you usually give your suppliers a little extra something at Christmas, now would be a good time to schedule that, perhaps even using Black Friday discounts.

Ditto, if you send holiday or New Year cards, schedule in time for those which could include: planning, shooting, designing, ordering, writing and addressing.

INBOX CLEAR-OUT

An inbox is not a task list. So if you have hundreds or thousands of emails in there that want actioning, move them to a sub-folder so you don’t get drawn in every time you go to your inbox.

Going forward, you’re going to empty your inbox daily Monday to Friday or whatever your business week is. Check your inbox between one and three times a day and close it at other times. This will allow you to concentrate on the big chunks of work you need to get through without email being a distraction.

Answer anything that you can do inside a couple of minutes and for anything that will take longer, turn it into a task. Copy and paste the relevant piece of the email to the task. If you have a system that links emails like LightBlue or Daylite, that’s fabulous.

Once you’ve either replied or turned the email into a task, file the email in a sub-folder. Given that you can search for the email by content or sender, you could just have one sub-folder for ‘dealt with’ emails.

This system of handling email is based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done. It’s a fabulous book for managing your business and life generally – perhaps a holiday read?

You also need to go through your current inbox for the past month or so and triage it: either respond inside a few minutes or turn into a task. You do not want one of these coming back in a few weeks to trip you up when you’re at your busiest. Schedule your triage session in your calendar in the next few days if you can’t do this today.

BEING EFFICIENT

When you’re planning your client projects, it can be useful to keep the notes and thoughts for each project in a separate folder. Breaking down projects helps prevent overwhelm and keeps them on track.

For instance, ‘do album’ may include:
– Request favourites from client / choose favourites
– Import image folder into album design software
– Check size of album + number of pages
– Design album
– Export design as double-page spreads
– Resize spreads and save for web
– Upload to online review software, write intro blurb, publish.
– Email client with link, next steps and album deadlines.

For sets of repeating tasks such as the steps in designing an album, it can be helpful to keep a list of them which you print and tick off. Electronic task managers can have their own versions of this; for instance, Daylite has activity sets.

Although you may know all the steps, remembering them in the right order can take up space in your head that you may want for other things.

GETTING HELP

If it looks as if you have too much on your plate, there are a few things you can do.

One is to truly look at how efficient you are. For instance, designing albums and making album changes all on one day is more efficient than doing an hour a day for the week. This is because when you switch context between different tasks, it takes us time to adjust from one to the next.

This means that a one-minute email in the midst of album design is more like a five to 10-minute email as you lose your train of thought on the album. There is also something intrinsically rewarding with getting something as complex as an album design done in just one or two concentrated sittings without distractions.

If you are being efficient, then what support could you get? Concentrate on removing or reducing tasks that suck your willpower. For one person, this could be using social media hashtags, for another, it could be the thought of what to cook for dinner. Social media management or food boxes with recipes such as Hello Fresh might help.

Also keep in mind services such as Fiverr and Upwork for online business tasks and Helping Hands and local teenagers/parents to deal with physical ones such as packing orders and post office runs. Try to get your support set up before you need it.

Schedule time in your calendar for you too. This includes time off, family/friends time and workouts.  You can download a free printable planner of your 2018 fourth quarter I’ve designed just for you – no email needed HERE

NEXT STEPS

You should now have a calendar with important dates and deadlines and a set of projects, each of which contains tasks. These two pieces can help you stay on top of this quarter like a boss. Check your projects each week – it will probably take you less than 30 minutes – to make sure that everything is progressing as it should be: clients or suppliers have responded to emails and nothing you were meant to do has fallen through the cracks.

We’re all human and things WILL get lost along the way, but the weekly checks will bring you back on course quickly and help you plan your tasks for the week. Don’t forget, you can download a free printable planner of 2023 fourth quarter I’ve designed just for you here. 

I hope this helps you plan your fourth quarter success, staying sane and delivering a great service to your clients.

Canva brand kit: how to set it up (free + pro options)

Canva brand kit: how to set it up (free + pro options)

Canva brand kit: how to set it up (free + pro options)

Let me introduce you to the Canva brand kit – an essential element of any business that helps it appear with a consistent look and feel across its social platforms, website and other marketing. And with free and paid options, the Canva brand kit can work for new or established businesses on any budget.

Canva is an online design tool with a drag and drop interface that’s easy to use, templates and a relatively short learning curve, so it’s perfect for business owners who are not graphic designers. You can create everything in it from social media graphics to websites and business cards. Most options are free to use, with paid plans for some photos, graphic elements, templates and team working.

What is a branding kit?

A brand kit is a collection of elements, colours and fonts that are associated with your business or brand. It can be as simple as a single font and one colour or include multiple logo variations, several fonts and multiple colour palettes.

Its purpose is to create a recognisable cohesive look or feel for a business or brand. This means that when it appears somewhere like Instagram, followers can instantly identify which account has shared a post, which helps develop a relationship with the brand.

Canva branding kit contents: a logo, a colour palette and fonts.

How to create a brand kit in Canva

Canva has its own Brand Hub in the sidebar in the tools section. When you click on this, you’re taken to the Brand Kit and Brand templates, each with their own tabs. A free Canva account allows you to add up to two colours, so you can have a brand kit in free Canva, albeit a minimal one. The Pro Canva account allows you to add multiple logos, colours, photos, graphics and icons, along with fonts for your title, subtitle, headings, body text, quotes and captions.

At first glance, the free Canva account is very restrictive, but when you sign up, you’re offered a free 30-day trial of its Pro membership, during which you can set up your Brand Kit. The Brand Kit remains, even if you cancel your Pro membership after the free trial. So, I suggest that you use the free trial to set up your Brand Kit – it saves you so much time when creating or adapting designs.

You add brand colours to Canva by clicking ‘Add colour’ and typing in the hex codes. Logos are added into their own folder with the upload button. For fonts, you can upload your own or use one of the hundreds of popular Canva fonts. There’s even a font ‘notes’ section to allow comments about font usage such as when to make headings all capital letters or changing letter spacing.

What does a brand kit do in Canva?

A Canva brand kit helps you create graphic designs more quickly than starting from scratch, because it contains all your branding elements such as colours and heading / body fonts as well as other graphics such as logos.

If you have Pro membership (it’s around $13/£11 a month if you pay monthly), you can also customise the colours of templates in a few clicks: pass your cursor over the colours in your brand hub and an option to ‘shuffle’ will appear. Click on the bar of brand colours and watch the template colours swap around. Keep clicking until you have the colour combination you most prefer.

How to set up brand templates in Canva

You can set up Brand Templates inside Canva’s Brand Hub with the Brand Kit. This is one of those tasks that you do once and you reap the rewards repeatedly afterwards. In this case, set up templates that you regularly use such as Instagram carousel posts, Reels covers and Facebook posts and add your brand fonts, colours and matching colours or graphics. This would also be a great time to add any custom photography you have, putting it in the photos folder.

This is especially useful when you’re working in teams and want others to work on graphics: these pre-approved templates are going to steer your colleagues or freelancers towards creating work that is on brand. Having brand templates set up is also going to save you time going forward, especially when you’re in a hurry.

In the Pro account, you can have multiple brand kits. It’s easy to swap between them in a couple of clicks.

Where you can use your Canva brand kit

You can use your Canva brand kit EVERYWHERE! This means you can use it to create:

  • Social post graphics
  • Video text overlays
  • Ebooks
  • Presentations
  • Business cards
  • QR codes in a brand colour
  • Brochures / flyers
  • Canva websites

How to share your brand kit

Imagine that you have your brand kit inside Canva and want a freelancer to create graphics for you that fit your branding. One way of working would be to add them to your Canva team. Another is to have them create inside their own Canva account and supply you with either the finished graphics or a template link, that allows you to open a copy of their work in your own account with one click, so you can update the template at will.

In this case, you would want to supply them with a branding guide, that explains your brand kit in one document, so that they understand your brand visuals. This is where you can create a Canva brand guide or guidelines.

I’ve created a free Canva brand guide template to make this easy for you: click the graphic below for access. Just swap in your own colours, fonts, logo if relevant and photos if you want to help flesh out the look of your brand, download as a PDF and send to your designer. This is also helpful if you are working with any freelancers or web designers.

Free Canva brand guide template - just add your name and email to download this brand guidelines template for Canva. Download into your Canva account in one click.
7 WAYS CANVA TEMPLATES CAN HELP YOU GROW YOUR BUSINESS

7 WAYS CANVA TEMPLATES CAN HELP YOU GROW YOUR BUSINESS

When you start your own business, you need to learn so many new skills: financial, social, motivational and beyond. Given that you’re the one responsible for making everything happen, it’s easy to think that you need to do it all yourself, but that’s just not true. In fact, experts say you need to build systems for others to follow as soon as you can, so you can stay doing the thing you love and let others do the rest. Doing this prevents frustration and burn-out. One of the easiest systems you can introduce to your business are Canva templates for your social media graphics. Here are seven reasons why you might want to use them to grow your business and stay sane at the same time.

1. SAVE YOUR VALUABLE TIME WITH CANVA TEMPLATES

Time is one of the scarcest resources of a business owner. Do you really want to spend hours creating graphics, when you could take a short-cut with templates, updating with your branded colours, fonts and text in a few minutes? And once you have your favourites updated with your branding, simply duplicate pages in your design and swap out the text and photos. It’s that easy!

Using brand fonts and colours consistently means your followers recognise your posts as soon as they appear in their feed – an easy way to build your brand. And templates make it possible to batch weeks or months of content at a time and schedule out your posts, so you have time and bandwidth to work on other parts of your business, secure in the knowledge that your social media posts are going out when they should. 

Even if you ‘like’ designing social media graphics, is spending hours on them a great use of your time? Is there something else that would be a better use of your time? Hint: it may be something you don’t want to do and designing social media graphics is a displacement activity. If you really need a break from work, you could choose an activity that is completely unconnected.

Canva business templates - an example of a carousel template for Canva that could save you hours.

2. STAY IN YOUR ZONE OF GENIUS

We often start a business because we want to work in a particular field on our own and we’re passionate about that – or certainly about the freedom that working for yourself can bring. What can remove the shine from that vision are the other tasks that are not part of your chosen profession. For instance, if you’re a yoga teacher who loves helping their clients build stronger and more flexible bodies, it doesn’t automatically follow that you also love running an Instagram account, learning to set up an online shop to sell classes or completing tax returns. You may not be skilled at these either. 

Give yourself the gift of freedom and outsource or minimise those tasks where possible, so that you can spend most of your time connecting with your clients. Canva templates are an easy stepping stone that give professional results for your marketing without needing to learn design principles yourself. Just add in your own fonts, colours and text. 

3. KEEPS YOU IN TOUCH WITH DESIGN TRENDS

It can be easy to be stuck in your own design world – the way it’s always been done. By tapping into Canva business templates, you’re staying current with trends and your business reflects it’s moving with the times.

This can be simple updates such as using a gradient rather than a single colour or using trending elements. And because someone else is doing the designing, you don’t have to stay on top of the latest looks. Win-win!

You can still retain your brand colours and fonts most of the time, with the trending elements or designs swapping in to keep your social media graphics and other marketing visuals fresh. 

4. LEVERAGE YOUR HOURS

In order for your business to earn more, your average hourly rate has to increase. Whether that’s raising what you charge for professional services, or spending your time creating products that can be sold multiple times to leverage your time, your hourly rate matters. 

Given this, you need to ask yourself if it makes any sense to spend hours creating a graphic that someone else – an expert in THEIR field – has already 90% created. This is their leveraged product that is available at a much lower price point than it would cost to have a custom design created. 

Unless your outgoings need to be as close to zero as possible or you’re outsourcing your social media completely, Canva business templates are the efficient middle way to create marketing graphics efficiently. 

5. READY TO PUBLISH IN MINUTES

Yes, we’re talking about your time again and how to make the most of it. Canva templates can help you publish in minutes rather than hours. This can mean you’re able to create and schedule a social post in a small pocket of time between meetings or at the end of the day.

And because you’re not wasting time thinking about text size or balancing elements, you never end up taking five times as long as you planned to work on your socials, abandoning other important tasks in your schedule. Apart from anything else, having your daily plans hijacked by a marketing graphic is discouraging.  

6. TEMPLATES HAVE THE LATEST FEATURES

Many Canva business templates make the most of recently added functionality and new additions to the library. They could feature animations, text variations or simply using the latest elements, which add the ‘ooh’ factor to your social posts. It also means you don’t have to ‘stay up with the latest trends’ – as they’re already baked into the templates. 

7. TEMPLATES ARE SYSTEMS FOR YOUR BUSINESS

When starting your business, you want to create systems for efficiency. It also means that when you’re ready to delegate tasks, they’re ready to hand over. In the case of creating weekly Instagram content, for example, this could be tasks that include reviewing the past week, choosing topics (based on your content pillars), writing posts, recording and editing video, creating graphics, scheduling and daily engagement.

You might make these into a checklist, a set of Trello cards or a section in Notion, depending on how you like to run your business. You can link the URL of your Canva templates quickly and easily into any online system – even a PDF checklist.

Once you’ve built your systems, you can see easily which parts – if not all – you can delegate to others.  Systems also keep you on track: it’s easier to work through a checklist than remember what you need to do and in what order every time. Systems also mean knowing how long a set of tasks take, so you can plan enough time in your diary. 

What do you think? Do any of these points resonate with you and your business? Have you tried using Canva templates for your marketing? There are a range of them available in the shop

HOW TO CREATE A SOCIAL MEDIA SCHEDULE IN FIVE EASY STEPS

HOW TO CREATE A SOCIAL MEDIA SCHEDULE IN FIVE EASY STEPS

If you want to learn how to create a social media schedule so you can be consistent on platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, here are the five easy steps you need to take. If you want any further reasons for creating a social media schedule, that’s explained in the last blog post about why you need one.

1. CHOOSE YOUR PLATFORMS

You have limited time, so choose the platforms that are giving you the most return on your time and resources. Review these every quarter, to make sure that they’re still working for you and to check if you need to change anything about your posting schedule or content. If you want to leave a platform, you can explain in your profile and/or a pinned post that all your latest news is now on Instagram or Facebook or wherever you are active. If you’re just starting out and have no idea which platforms to choose, have a word with a couple of your clients and see what platforms they’re on. Also bear in mind that photographers deal in the visual, so you may be better off with visual-centric platforms such as Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest, rather than podcasts and Twitter.  

2. CHOOSE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA POSTING SCHEDULE

Choose your social media posting schedule based on what you want from it. Someone wanting to build a Facebook page to 1000 fans inside a few months might post two or three times a day; someone who just wants their Facebook page to look up to date for visitors might post once a week. Start out with the minimum viable posting schedule for each platform if you haven’t been able to post consistently until now. Better to start out slowly and make sure it’s sustainable for you than to crash and burn. You can always increase your posting schedule later. Your schedule is also reliant on you creating content. As a photographer, you’re ahead of most in having a selection of professional photos to choose from. But if you’re including video in your scheduling, you still need to create and edit that. Make sure that you have enough time in your schedule to curate and create social media content including captions and hashtag research. If you don’t have enough time to create all the content and/or schedule it, you could hire a social media manager to do some or all of it for you. They may also be able to provide a strategy for you.  

3. WHAT TO POST – YOUR CONTENT

Well, photos, obviously. And video if at all possible. Facebook and Instagram stories are perfect for vertical video that you’ve shot yourself and looks a little messy. The buzzword is ‘relatable’ – the kind of video anyone could shoot – the antithesis of corporate or polished. Think about your audience and what would be useful to them – that’s what is most likely to get most engagement. You can vary the format too: for Facebook, this can mean Lives, memes, gifs and questions. Think of this as a bit of a science experiment: try lots of things, look at what is most engaging for your audience and do more of that.  

4. CHOOSE YOUR SCHEDULER

A scheduler can make or break your social media posting. Sure, you still have to engage with your audience, but schedulers mean your content goes out when it should. For Facebook, I recommend its own native scheduler. It keeps Facebook happy, by which I mean you are staying on Facebook which it likes, and is easy to use. You can find it on your page’s publishing tools just below published posts. For Instagram, Planoly and Later both have paid and free schedulers, which cover up to 30 posts a month. If you have an Instagram business account connected to Facebook, both services will post single images automatically for you. For many people, that’s enough. HootSuite will also do the job, just not as visually. For Instagram Stories, it’s a bit trickier. Although you can plan your Stories in Planoly, Later and a number of other schedulers, you need to post Stories at least partially manually. So when scheduling, you want to think about when you’re available to post.  

5. KNOW WHEN TO POST

The best times to post your social media content are when the highest number of your followers are online. You can check this on Instagram in your insights / audience, assuming you have a business account. On Facebook, it’s a similar story. Go to your page insights / posts / when your fans are online. Pinterest (no, technically not a social media platform, but useful to include here as it helps amplify our marketing messages) does not have a ‘good’ time of day to post, but it does like daily posting of new content. So that’s how to create a social media schedule for your business or blog. When you set it up, it can help you be consistent and totally on top of your schedule through batching and your scheduler.  

JUST ONE MORE THING …

If you’re a visual thinker or want to have a bird’s eye view of all your platforms, you can use a spreadsheet such as Google sheets or my new favourite AirTable. The basic version is free and more than enough for a social media scheduler, although I upgraded, for some of the extra capabilities including watching my posts change colour when I’ve created and scheduled them. There are even social media templates you can find in the Universe section.

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