10 Best Productivity Apps For Entrepreneurs & Business Owners

10 Best Productivity Apps For Entrepreneurs & Business Owners


Apps may not seem significant enough to make a major impact on your day-to-day operations, but when you find that one app that just solves all the pain points you didn’t even know you had, you can then 10x your productivity and work smarter, not harder, while powering through your day. This article rounds up 10 of the best productivity apps that are essential for entrepreneurs and business owners. If you’re looking for that app that’s going to help you work smarter, you’ve come to the right place.

10 Best Productivity Apps for Entrepreneurs

In our 18 Smartphone Apps to Manage Your Business on the Go article we discussed the best productivity apps to have on your smartphone, but these are the 10 best productivity apps you can download straight to your desktop. Some of these are web apps you can also use from your browser, but we recommend downloading their native Mac or PC apps for full productivity and capabilities.

CloudApp

CloudApp Productivity App

There is no other app like CloudApp that works so efficiently and effectively in all aspects of screen capturing and recording. This is one of the best productivity apps you can use for your business because it will maximize the effectiveness of your team’s communication (or any communication you do with any person you touch base with throughout the day) by tenfold.

CloudApp simplifies visual communication which is essential for teams that need to communicate clearly and quickly with one another. Capture screenshots and make annotations, create screen recordings to share with your team, add notes and comments onto other captures your team has created and download and share straight from the cloud.

This app will boost your productivity by saving you the time and effort of typing out emails or scheduling calls to explain any edits you need to be done to a project by powering you with the tools and sharing capabilities to communicate with videos, recordings, and screenshots. Their pricing models are very accessible, so we suggest trying this app out to see what it can do to optimize your business communication.

Check out CloudApp


ProtonVPN

ProtonVPN Productivty App

The importance of using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) cannot be overstated, and as we discussed in our How to Bulletproof Your Online Business article, it becomes even more imperative when you’re not only dealing with your own information but your customers’ as well.

Using a VPN is essential, and ProtonVPN is the best VPN service we’ve used thus far. As VPN services should, they route your internet traffic through an encrypted VPN tunnel so your confidential information stays safe, but what makes them stand out from other VPN providers is that they’re based in Switzerland which has some of the world’s strongest privacy laws which help protect your data even further and they also offer a free version of their VPN service which is subsidized by the paid users. Their free plan still safeguards your information the exact same way it does for the premium plans, it just lacks some of the premium features.

ProtonVPN is one of the best productivity apps you can use for your ecommerce business because it’s a simple and cost-effective way to take action on protecting sensitive information and data that’s not only your own but your customers’ as well.

Check out ProtonVPN


Bear

Bear Writing App for Productivity

Taking notes, writing documents, creating captions, and jotting to-do lists are still very much a part of entrepreneurs’ day-to-day tasks, and although many of us may not physically be writing every note down with a pen and paper, we continue to make notes digitally. Bear is a note-taking app for iPhone, iPad, and Mac, and although it does take notes, it does so much more than just that and it does it very well.

Bear is a sophisticated note-taking app that gives you the tools to write beautifully on your devices, and it lets you manage your notes your way. Its service is flexible, which makes it ideal for almost every person no matter how, when, where, and why you like to make and take notes.

Use hashtags in Bear to organize your notes, link bodies of work to one another for easy reference, use focus-mode for a no-distractions way to concentrate while you write, and create everything from a simple to-do list to full-blown essays. Not only are the writing capabilities top-notch, but Bear offers beautiful themes and typography options so your notes can match your vision.

Bear is one of the best productivity apps you can use for your business because no matter how you write or how your writing needs to be presented, Bear gives you the tools to make it happen and they make it easy to achieve. They offer a huge list of features that blow other writing tools out of the water, and their pricing model is extremely accessible for entrepreneurs at any price point.

Check out Bear


Product Hunt Toolbar Widget

Product Hunt for Mac Productivity App

As an entrepreneur or ecommerce business owner, part of maximizing your own productivity comes from staying up-to-date with new innovations in the industry, especially when it comes to new products, tools, apps, and services that can help you run your business better. Product Hunt is a service that highlights the best new products, apps, and resources every day, and so their Product Hunt Toolbar Widget is a top recommendation on this list of best productivity apps.

The Product Hunt Toolbar Widget makes it even easier to stay in the know with what the latest products and resources are, and as a business owner who needs to maximize their time, using this toolbar can help you find the best new products every day without taking up too much of your time.

Install the Product Hunt App into your toolbar and start checking out what they curate every day. If you’re anything like us, you’ll find at least one cool new product or resource every day that you want to try out for your business.

Check out the Product Hunt Toolbar Widget


Airtable

Airtable Productivity App

If you’ve read our Content Strategy: The Ultimate Guide to Preparation, Production, Publication & Promotion article, then you’ve already seen us gush about Airtable and why it’s one of the best productivity apps. Essentially, Airtable creates smart spreadsheets, and although that may not sound fun nor interesting, it’s completely changed our business, and our productivity, for the better.

Airtable is the ultimate planning, sharing, scheduling, and collaboration tool and it takes everything that makes spreadsheets boring and inefficient and turns them into works of art.

Airtable spreadsheets include smart features like checkboxes, single and multiple selection options, date and time optimizations, currency functions, URL linking, attachment dropboxes, image storing and so much more. Plus, create multiple tabs in each Airtable base and inter-connect tabs to one another for easy access to information while you navigate.

Airtable also offers calendar views and kanban view functions, plus users can share Airtable bases with others and embed Airtable bases into web pages. The capabilities of Airtable are astonishing, and it’s truly one of the most powerful tools we’ve used and one of those game-changing tools that we don’t know how we worked without.

For a full look into how we manage our content strategy with Airtable and to get a glimpse into the capabilities of Airtable spreadsheets, check out our Ultimate Guide to Content Strategy article.

Check out Airtable


Slack

Slack for Productivity

Slack is another one of the best productivity apps we’ve ever used, not only for its communication functions which help our team connect across continents but also for its integration capabilities which make it so much more useful to us than it just being a team member chat room. We discussed the 7 integrations we use with Slack in our 7 Ways to Use Slack to Manage Your Online Business article, so if you’re interested in learning more about how and why we use integrations in Slack, check out that article.

With Slack, we can get an overview of our business at a glance and see information reported from our integrated apps such as when our content gets shared and mentioned across social platforms, when sales are made across our different businesses, our site status to monitor up and downtime, the ability to view and respond to customer support requests from our help desk software without having to actually log into it, and so much more.

Slack helps us keep tabs on our business easily and in one place, which helps us efficiently recognize when tasks need to be attended to and when situations need to be handled if issues arise. It helps us keep a birds-eye view on our business at all times and, for that reason, it’s one of the best productivity apps on our roster.

Check out Slack


ImageOptim

ImageOptim Productivity Apap

We discussed the importance of optimizing images properly in our Optimizing Images for Web: A Practical Guide article because it directly impacts website speed which can majorly affect overall SEO. Images are one of the best ways you can whittle down your site speed because it’s easy to do and something you can stay on top of by using the right tools.

One of the best tools to use in this case is ImageOptim. It’s made our list of the best productivity apps because it’s one of those services that just works, and it makes reducing your image file sizes simple, even for those of us who aren’t experienced in this field.

To use ImageOptim to reduce your image file sizes, simply drag and drop your image files into the app and it’ll crunch them down into a more efficient file size without reducing any of the image’s actual quality. It’s free to use, so download it for yourself and try it! Your images will look the same but it can make major improvements to your site’s overall speed, so you have nothing to lose.

Check out ImageOptim


Neat

Neat Productivity App

One of the best productivity apps any business owner can use is a digital expense tracking software, and one of the best in the industry is Neat. Your business’ finances are the heartbeat of the company, and keeping a close eye on them is important for the longevity of your business. To keep it from taking up too much of your time, Neat simplifies your bookkeeping so you can focus on other things.

Use Neat to organize receipts and invoices, manage expenses, reduce manual data entry, and get real-time visibility into your business’ spending, sales, and expenses. With Neat’s suite of tools, you can oversee your business’ financial health more clearly and it makes filing and reporting income more efficient as well.

Every business needs some sort of accounting process, and Neat is a productivity app that takes the pressure off your day-to-day financial management systems.

Check out Neat


Todoist

ToDoist for Productivity

To-do lists are one of those tried-and-true productivity methods that never go out of style, simply because they work and they help get the job done. Take your paper to-do lists to the next level with Todoist, and create a more advanced list-management system not only for you but for the people you work with.

Todoist can be used individually or in teams, and it’s designed exclusively to help users get more done. It’s one of the best productivity apps on the market, and one of the best digital to-do list apps around, because of its user-friendly interface and reliable features.

Manage to-do lists with teams, create individual lists for each member, assign reminders and due dates, track daily and weekly progress, manage project to-do lists separately, easily move around and toggle tasks, check tasks off as they’re completed, add notes and links, flag tasks by priority and so much more.

With Todoist you can make sure you never miss a thing and that you stay on top of everything you need to accomplish in the day, week, or month without constantly having to keep everything on your mind. Create smart to-do lists for yourself in Todoist and watch your productivity improve.

Check out Todoist


MacClean

MacClean for Productivity

Being more productive is easier when the space around you is clutter and junk-free, and that applies not only to your physical space but your digital space as well.

Many of us entrepreneurs and business owners use Apple computers to conduct our work online, and so to keep your computer optimized for productive work, we recommend using MacClean. MacClean is a service that helps Apple computer users organize their digital space by cleaning out all the extra files and functions that aren’t needed so you can do more with your Mac.

If you can’t locate files easily on your computer or have to dig through a few folders to find the items that you’re looking for, then this service is for you. This service is also important for business owners to use because it protects your personal data from malicious threats by cleaning up cookies, caches, sessions, history, and saved passwords from your internet browser so your personal and professional details aren’t at risk.

You could take the effort to conduct Mac cleaning manually, but that’s not a productive use of your time. MacClean takes the tediousness out of the process by making it a one-click productivity app to clean, optimize, and protect your computer.

Check out MacClean


Bonus: Web2App

Website App Maker

Since this article is all about apps, turn your own website, or your favorite website, into an app with Web2App. This service turns any website into a native Mac or PC app so you can access frequently used websites or URLs more easily.

Save time searching for and switching between different websites by creating native apps for your favorites. Not only can you turn your own site into an app, but you can do the same for other sites like social media platforms, messenger software, or even for the productivity apps we’ve mentioned in this article! The options are endless, and it’s super quick to do.

Turning your top-used websites into native apps on your desktop can take the hassle out of searching for them manually every time you want to use them, and it makes for a much more efficient experience overall. Check out the sample apps on their homepage to see what their service is capable of.

Check out Web2App


Conclusion

There you have our full roundup of the best productivity apps you can use for your online business. Take the time to browse through these apps and get a sense of how they can make your day-to-day operations more efficient. These apps have changed the way we work for the better, and we’re sure they’ll do the same for you.



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Want a Great Personal Brand? Build Someone Else’s First.

Want a Great Personal Brand? Build Someone Else’s First.


On June 2nd, 2014, Gary Vaynerchuk launched a video entitled “Clouds and Dirt.” 

The release itself was not a big deal. Gary had released 1,000 episodes of his first YouTube show by this point. However, the style of the video changed everything. 

For the first time, Gary showed his daily life. “Clouds and Dirt” set the tone for Gary’s future content. Videos like this one earned him millions of followers, many of which consume Gary’s wisdom every single day.

But Gary Vee isn’t the hero of this story. The man behind the camera is. 

David Rock (known now as “D Rock”) made his debut for Gary with this video. He made a pitch, and then he delivered. Gary hired him on the spot. Without D Rock, you’d probably never hear of Gary Vee.

Sadly, D Rock’s story is often forgotten. We gravitate more to the Gary Vees of the world than we do the D Rocks. For this reason, it’s easy to believe you’re an idiot if you don’t build your own personal brand. 

The problem with this belief is that… well… it’s wrong. 

Here are five reasons to ignore your personal brand and grow someone else’s instead.

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You Actually Become Good at Something (Instead of Faking It)

“The temptation of the age is to look good without being good.” 

Spiritual writer Brennan Manning wrote that. Pretty good observation, right? Except Brennan Manning wrote that in 1989. He had no idea just how powerful that temptation would become. 

The best personal brands are built around people who get this are actually good at something. Seth Godin consulted big companies and started his own. Shawn Stevenson trained for years to be able to understand scientific studies on health and nutrition well enough to explain them to the average person. Brene Brown got doctorates and led her own research teams. 

Nobody is famous for being famous, not even the Kardashians.

When you manage someone else’s personal brand, you have to master many areas: copywriting, photography, social media, time management, storytelling. These are all real skills that you pick up much faster when you are learning them for someone else.

You See the Real Results in Person

Usain Bolt captured the hearts and imaginations of track stars around the world by winning three gold medals in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Olympic Games. He shocked the world and smashed Olympic records along the way

Bolt’s performance (and heroic pose) is unforgettable. What often drifts unseen throughout memories, though, is the performance of the entire Jamaican team. 

Jamaica earned more medals than any other country other than the United States and Kenya over these three Olympic events. Given that over 70 countries compete in the Summer Games, this is no small feat.

running track starting point

How did the rest of the team perform so well?

Simple. They watched greatness in action.

The Jamaican track team did not train against a clock or a coach or a random YouTube video. They ran beside the fastest man in the world day after day. It is one thing to know a great feat can be done in theory. It’s another thing entirely to watch a person perform that feat right before your very eyes. 

When you succeed in growing a personal brand once, it’s much easier to do it again. 

You Can Be More Objective

Writing articles, filming videos, and recording podcasts all require a level of emotional engagement that often blocks you from reviewing your work effectively. You can’t read the label on your own jar.

When you’re watching someone else attempt to build a brand, two things become immediately apparent: what’s working to build the brand and what isn’t. You easily know what to do more of and what to stop entirely. This sort of objectivity is difficult to achieve alone. 

Freed from the agony of emotional attachment, you also help your partner learn more about herself. Together, you can iron out more kinks than either of you could alone. 

You Can Harness the Power of Two

If you are familiar at all with the Star Wars films, the name “George Lucas” means a lot to you. The person who deserves at least as much credit for birthing this science fiction staple is George’s first wife: Marcia Lucas. 

Marcia was an Academy Award-winning editor and George’s secret weapon. Though George had big dreams, Star Wars never would have been the unforgettable movie it is without Marcia. 

Mark Hamill (who played Luke Skywalker) even went so far to say that it was Marcia who was “really the warmth and the heart” of those films.

Great work is almost always done by two people at minimum. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Vincent and Theo Van Gogh. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkein. All of these pairs are responsible for critical artifacts of the human race. There is no chance any one of them could have made great work alone. 

You Learn That You Can Live Without Credit

woman's back

When I worked a dull office job, I had one goal: Make my boss look good. I didn’t care about padding my resume or impressing anyone. Anything she asked for received all my attention and time. No matter who was really responsible for our success, I gave her all the credit. 

Over time, she gained more sway in the organization. People started seeking her out for projects. She’d show up, nod, smile, and then come back and ask if I’d be able to execute on her vision. 

Nobody cared about me, but I didn’t feel ignored. I felt powerful.

As it turned out, I didn’t need the whole company to know I was doing a good job. I only needed her to know what I could do.

When you show up and simply do the job you came to do without seeking credit, a weird thing happens. You start getting credit anyway. Eventually, people will seek out the team behind a successful person. They ask questions. They poke around. By constructing the castle of another person, you build an empire all your own.

Final Thoughts

We live in an era where many people are driven by the question: “How do I get what I want?” Personal brands seem like the ultimate answer to that. They aren’t. If you build a platform on nothing, you end up with nothing. 

Instead, set your ego aside and ask this question: “How can I help a person I admire win big?” 

David Rock didn’t have an interesting life. But he knew Gary Vaynerchuk did. He saw a gap in Gary’s strategy and offered to fill it. Gary fell in love with the idea and the rest is history. 

Now for the best part: 

Though he barely shows his face on camera, D Rock now has 150,000 followers on Instagram himself. He is known not only among filmmakers but by nearly everyone who follows Gary. In other words, D Rock became a celebrity by making someone else a celebrity.

Don’t get caught up in the false allure of easy fame. Do the work. Then reap the rewards.

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Todd Brison

Todd Brison

Todd Brison is an author. Check out toddbrison.com to learn more.



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Four Ordinary Areas of Focus to Help You Have an Extraordinary Day

Four Ordinary Areas of Focus to Help You Have an Extraordinary Day


I am completely average. Although when I made the bed this morning, my wife said she “only had to fix it a little bit,” so things are looking up.

People write blog posts that say things like, “If I can do it, so can you!” The “it” in question is often an NYT best-selling book, a massive online following, or a TED Talk. Those things often feel out of reach, even if I am reading them from an “ordinary guy.”

I have done a few extraordinary things, but I forget them often. Thank goodness for profile bios and blurbs.

It’s tough to focus on long-term accomplishments. It’s also not very fun. I’d much rather have a single good day. Weeks and months are hard, but I can handle 24 hours.

By sheer dumb luck, the road to accomplishing anything extraordinary is simply a series of good days. Rather than dream of where you could be in months, why not, instead, tackle the only increment of time within your grasp a single day.

My single days are spent focusing on four pillars.

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Faith

Most people hear the word “faith” and think of capital-F “Faith” only. Although this is important, neglecting lowercase “faith” is a mistake. Faith is the sidekick of hope. Both are important to hold on to if you want a chance at having an extraordinary life.

Faith says: “Life can be better than it is right now.” Refusing to believe that leads to a hard life.

Faith without hope is a good thing. It means you will be a wonderful supporter. I have yet to find a person who does not need someone to believe in them. But without faith, it is impossible to have hope. Hope casts a vision. Faith makes it real.

People talk about “having” faith as if you find it on the side of the road. Not true. You can grow your faith. The quickest way to make this happen is to keep tiny commitments to yourself. “Tiny” is the key word here. Say you’re going to get up at 6 A.M. instead of 6:30, and then actually do it. Commit to walking half a mile in the morning, and then make that happen.

If you can’t have faith in anything else, have faith in you.

Fitness

fitness tracker image

You have one sack of bones and organs to get through this life. Why wouldn’t you want to treat it as well as possible?

If you’re like me, you hear the word “fitness” and imagine some ripped dude climbing walls or doing 1,000 pushups in an hour. That was interesting to me at 20. At 30, I’m happy to settle for practical fitness. Luckily, practical fitness is much easier. Anyone can be practically fit.

Practical fitness looks like this: 

  • Breathe deeply through your nose as often as possible. 
  • Take 20 minutes out of your day and walk a mile.
  • Whenever you get a phone call, stand up, and walk around the room.
  • Eat a kiwi (it’s loaded with health benefits and tastes better than a banana).

Although your body takes cues from your brain, the opposite is also true. You don’t have to “treat your body like a temple” in order to be practically fit. If you walk around more than you sit, if you eat more nutritious foods than junk, if you poop once per day, you’re doing great.

Don’t believe what you see in the movies. To do your best work, you’ll have to be in your best shape.

Family

You’ve probably been around your family more than ever this year. Trust me, it’s far better than the opposite.

In 2020, everyone is getting more of what they already had. Those with incredible relationships are thriving from them now. Those who let their marriages and children fall by the wayside in previous years are… well… they’re learning now that was a mistake.

It can be difficult to focus on family relationships. There are no metrics. God knows we don’t need any. Can you imagine walking into your bedroom and saying to your partner: “Hey, if you have 30 minutes, can you fill out this performance review? You’ll be ranking me on my cleanliness, thoughtfulness, and sexual prowess. Starting today, I’ll be giving you one of these per quarter.”

Yuck.

Most people who get divorced aren’t surprised by it. Don’t pretend you can’t feel it when your relationships aren’t clicking full speed. When my wife Kate and I are not on the same page, nothing else goes right.

That’s why I spend most of my day trying to take things off her plate. I do dishes, laundry, and shopping. These are boring, menial tasks. But I’d much rather do them now than go through a not-boring and very stressful divorce later.

Finances

Money shouldn’t drive your life, but it should fuel it.

Do you have to be money hungry? No. Do you have to know how money lives, breathes, and works? Yes.

This sounds backward, but the more financially educated you are, the less you have to make in order to survive. Financial guru Robert Kiyosaki claims to live on “only $100,000” per year and that he isn’t interested in making any more. Kanye West was right: “Money isn’t everything, not having it is.”

For the past three years, I’ve been tracking the amount of money I make per day, not per month or per year. This shift helps me keep a better grasp on where my time is going and where my money is flowing. It’s fun to make $200 in a single day. It’s way more fun to do that when you haven’t done a single minute of work. That’s normally a perk reserved for employees who slave away 50 weeks out of the year so they can “vacation” for two of them.

To tell the truth, I don’t like to think about money much. It’s much easier to learn a little, plan a little, and then stick to that plan. Coordinate with your family and work toward having as much financial freedom as possible.

Final Thoughts

Planning for the long term is a good thing, but in order to execute any long term plans, you need to have a series of good days. As a reminder, all my good days are driven by the following four ordinary areas of focus:

  • Faith
  • Fitness
  • Family
  • Finances

Do I have an extraordinary day every time I work on these four areas? No. Some days I still feel like I’m stuck in the rat race, going nowhere. However, before I made these areas a focal point in my life, the best I could hope to feel like was a rat wandering aimlessly, changing direction every time he smelled some cheese.

Instead of throwing yourself at the mercy of whatever comes next in this crazy world, stay focused, stay balanced, and keep moving. 

After all, you can only live one day at a time.

Discover thousands of products you can start selling online. No commitment, no credit card required.

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Want to Learn More?

Todd Brison

Todd Brison

Todd Brison is an author. Check out toddbrison.com to learn more.



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How to Start a Jewelry Making Business: The Ultimate Guide

How to Start a Jewelry Making Business: The Ultimate Guide


After college, I designed textile necklaces as a side gig to my creativity-sapping day job. Jewelry making was good busy work for idle hands. But when my handcrafted masterpieces started to garner repeated compliments from friends, I wondered, “Could my hobby become a legitimate business?”

Jewelry making is a viable low investment business for hands-on creatives, but crafting skills aren’t required—making jewelry one of the top things to make and sell online. Or, perhaps you’re DIY-stunted but have an incredible online business idea based on an untapped audience.

Whatever your motivation or skill level, starting a jewelry-making business comes with its own set of considerations and complications. For one thing: It’s crowded out there.

In the U.S., alone, the jewelry industry generates a hulking $70 billion dollars yearly in sales, with the lion’s share in fine jewelry. Talk about bling. It’s a saturated market but there’s still wiggle room for newcomers with a new niche or fresh take to an old school craft.

If you want to know how to make jewelry into a profitable business, this post is for you. We’ll explore jewelry making businesses from conception and design to production and marketing. This go-to guide includes advice from the pros, tactical takeaways, and examples from established Shopify stores.

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Table of Contents

Starting a jewelry business: Finding your angle

One of the first questions to ask yourself is: fine or fashion? Or maybe your interest lies somewhere in between. Each category has its own materials, production processes, price points, and customer profiles:

Fashion or costume jewelry is:

  • Trendy
  • Made of inexpensive metals and materials (bead, wire, plated metal, plastic, synthetic gems, etc.)
  • A lower price point, sometimes mass-produced
  • For the everyday or trendsetting customer

Example: ribbon choker with plated silver pendant.

Fine jewelry is:

  • Made with precious and semi-precious metals and gems
  • A higher price point
  • Made with excellent craftsmanship
  • For the luxury/wedding/special occasion customer

Example: diamond engagement ring.

Other/in-between:

  • This category covers everything else from mid-range materials (or high-low mix of textile, metals, gems, wood, 3D printing, acrylic, etc.) to jewelry defined as art (collectible, ooak) or craft (highly skilled craftsmanship)
  • Emphasis on design and uniqueness
  • Price point varies but usually mid-range
  • Occasion/statement, design-savvy/collector/gift-giving customer

Example: structural laser cut acrylic statement necklace.

Biko's Jewelry
Biko‘s jewelry sits somewhere in between costume and fine, selling high-quality designs made for everyday wear.

Once you’ve narrowed down the broad category for your jewelry business, it’s time to carve out a niche for your products. Start by defining your ideal customer (classic, trendsetter, brides, socially conscious consumers, etc.), and decide whether your products are occasion-specific (wedding, party, everyday, etc.) This will determine how you market them to your audience.

Trends

Researching trends is one way to determine (and validate) your chosen direction. Read fashion and jewelry blogs daily to stay on top of trends for each upcoming season.

The Cut London
The Cut London has a blog that supports their ecommerce site, where they talk about trends and highlight influential designers and experts.

From Google Trends, you can see broad global search for a particular term. Here’s one good example of a current upward trend in jewelry:

Alternately, you might offer a customizable experience (engraving, etc.), take an ethical stance, or cash in on memes or pop culture references.

Erica Weiner's heart necklaces
One of Erica Weiner’s most popular products, customers can personalize the engraved messages on one or both sides of these heart necklaces.

But you don’t have to just follow trends; you could also use your jewelry business to start them. That’s what Biko founder and designer Corrine Anestopoulos did, launching her collection based on personal style. “Somehow I felt like just by fluke I found a market for something new without meaning to, but it was just my taste,” she says.

“In the beginning, I was doing a brassy finish. Nobody else was doing that,” Anestopoulos says, noting that shiny silver was the trend at the time. Now, her collections evolve with trends in the industry every year, though the common thread is a recognizable look that defines her brand, and secures repeat business.

“I call my aesthetic ‘modern nostalgic.’ I used to work with a lot of vintage found pieces, mostly pendants that were from places in Africa or somewhere in India—old pieces that had a story to share,” says Anestopoulous. “I still try to stay true to that when I’m designing, but lately I’m leaning more towards a few more modern minimal pieces. That’s also what’s trending, but at the same time, I like to think I’m doing it in my way.”

Learn More: How to Conduct a SWOT Analysis for Your Business

Finding design inspiration

Success as a newbie in any facet of the fashion industry depends on strong aesthetic, unique design/product, and consistent branding. Before working with a designer to develop your branding and before designing individual pieces, run through a few exercises to define your overall signature.

Camille Enrico bold aesthetic bracelet
Camille Enrico jewelry is known for its unique, bold aesthetic—giving each piece instant recognizability and cohesiveness with the rest of the designs.

Depending on how you like to get inspired, you may set up Pinterest boards, design your own digital mood boards, or even assemble inspiration physically on a bulletin board or in a sketchbook.

Clip ideas from fashion and jewelry blogs. Collect images, colors, and textures from nature, architecture, fashion, or travel, and then identify themes that emerge. Never stop being inspired, says Anestopoulous. “I’m always drawing inspiration, collecting inspirational images, no matter where I am.”

DCW design blog
Art director/designer Daniel C. Wiggins maintains the DCW Design blog, where you can check out his own collection of vision boards to use as a starting point.

Branding

Once you’ve established your products’ aesthetic and nailed your customer profile, it should be easier to identify an overall look that will define your brand.

On the low-cost end, you can set up a basic Shopify store with a free theme and develop the logo yourself using a free online logo-maker. Keep in mind that you’ll still want to reserve budget for professional product photos. We’ll discuss the importance of photography for jewelry later in this post.

For larger budgets, work with a designer to translate your vision into a full branding package for your business—from the logo and website to packaging and marketing materials. Peruse the portfolios of Shopify Design Experts to find a designer whose work resonates with your tastes.

The Loop, a site where designers like Olivia King can post their portfolios for potential clients to browse.
Check out The Loop, a site where designers like Olivia King (pictured here) can post their portfolios for potential clients to browse.

Remember, branding is more than just the look of your brand. It also encompasses your voice, vision, and your brand story. Fashion purchases are often emotional, and emerging brands can win customers by connecting on a personal level. Tell your story through your about page, inject yourself into your social media posts, and share the process and inspiration behind your designs.

Jewelry brand Claurette's step-by-step design process
Jewelry brand Claurete has a page on their site dedicated to sharing the step-by-step process of how their designs come to life.

For Cred Jewellery, ethical practices and materials are at the core of the brand. The copy on the site repeats this message consistently. Phrases like “fairtrade,” “lab-grown,” and “ethical” are sprinkled throughout.

Cred Jewelry's page about sustainability and the Peruvian mining community they support
Cred Jewellery shares its dedication to sustainability throughout their site, as well as with a prominent featuring about the Peruvian mining community they support on the company about page.

Product design

Accurate sketches or 3D renderings of your designs are necessary if you’re hiring assembly staff or outsourcing to a manufacturer. There are several options, depending on your skill level and budget:

3DM Jewelry Design Studio's coaching and courses to learn to design your own jewelry
3DM Jewelry Design Studio has coaching and courses you can use to learn how to design your own jewelry.

Production and materials

How you’ll develop your products—by hand or in a factory, at home, or outsourced—depends on the complexity of the design, price point, materials, and skill level. Let’s break it down into three core categories:

  1. Fine/art jewelry
  2. Fashion/costume jewelry
  3. Outsourcing jewelry production

Production: fine/art jewelry (handcrafted, custom, and one-of-a-kind)

Handcrafting jewelry can be one of the most involved yet personal and versatile of the production methods. Depending on materials and design, some methods of jewelry production require specialized training/certification and expensive equipment. These methods include:

  • Soldering
  • Silver/goldsmithing
  • Casting
  • 3D printing
  • Laser cutting
  • Leather tooling
  • Weaving
  • Gemstone setting.

If you’re not sure the route you want to go, consider starting with free online classes. Once you know which area you want to study, you can invest in a paid option to further your skillset. We’ll list a few great options in a bit.

Production: fashion/costume

Handmade costume jewelry often involves the assembly of existing elements—chain, wire, beads, cast pendants, etc.—and doesn’t require special training or equipment beyond pliers, jewelry hammers, glue, and wire cutters.

This type of business is easier to scale, as you can purchase elements in bulk and templatize assembly to outsource it to interns or staff.

Production: outsourcing & fulfillment

Rather than making the jewelry with your own hands, you can have your designs manufactured by someone else. This isn’t ideal for fine, custom, or OOAK jewelry, but it can be cost-effective for fashion jewelry produced in larger quantities. There are two main options for outsourcing:

The most hands-off production method involves sending your designs with Oberlo or Modalyst, or a print-on-demand app, Printful. Your original designs are recreated in stainless steel, wood, plastic, gold, and silver and shipped directly to your customers.

Equipment and tools

There are several online resources for wholesale jewelry making equipment, tools, and supplies including precious gemstones and raw metals.

Get started here:

Gillian Johnson of Hawkly jewelry relies heavily on word-of-mouth when it comes to her wholesale suppliers. “Don’t be afraid to ask other designers where they find their supplies,” she says.

She also attends trade shows and industry events to continue to expand her network and discover new materials. “My favorite place to source the newest stones and silver findings is the Tucson Gem and Jewelry Show,” Johnson says. “There are thousands of vendors from all over the world.”

Education resources

If you elect to learn how to make jewelry via a specialized skill like gem setting, there are plenty of jewelry education resources, including formal classes and online tutorials. Look for local workshops and programs, or start with these online resources:

Workspace and team

If you elect to make the jewelry in-house, you’ll need a workshop space for you and your team. When setting up this space, consider the following:

  • Maneuverability. Consider the flow of the space, especially if the assembly has multiple steps—do you move from one station to the next in a logical sequence?
  • Safety. Some chemicals or tools involved in jewelry making require proper ventilation and safety precautions.
  • Storage. Well-organized multi-compartment storage is essential for small parts.

“A jeweler’s bench, a flex shaft, and your safety would be the most important considerations,” Johnson says. “The flex shaft is a wonderful and versatile tool that you can use for drilling, finishing, and polishing your pieces.” She also advises using a face mask and safety goggles—and for those with long hair pull it back so it doesn’t get caught.

If your production team is larger or your requirements are a little more complex—as with metal work or silversmithing workshops—consider commercial space outside of the home. If it’s out of your budget at launch, look into co-op studio space or share the costs of space and equipment with other creatives. Johnson splits her studio with two other businesses.

Space sharing also helps combat entrepreneur isolation, something Anestopoulos is familiar with herself. “After doing Biko full-time for a while, I ended up working at American Apparel once a week just to not be lonely at home in my studio, to meet people and get out in the world.”

Hiring

Anestopoulos now has a rotating team of part-time interns and assembly staff. As you scale your jewelry business, determine the parts of the operation you enjoy most and tap into your own strengths. Hire around those to fill in the gaps.

Anestopoulos reaches out to local universities with renowned fashion communication programs to find her interns. “I don’t ever look for anyone who’s interested in design; what I need is someone to help me free up my time so that I can be designing more,” she says. “I always look for people interested in the management side of running a fashion business.”

Not ready to make a full-on hire? Start by using a virtual assistant service to alleviate some of the mundane aspects of the business.

Product photography for jewelry

We’ve said it many times before: Product photography can make or break your online store. In many cases, with a very simple lighting setup, you can achieve great DIY on-white photos of your products, even with your smartphone.

Jewelry, however, can be a little more challenging due to its tiny details and reflective surfaces.

“Don’t skimp on photography,” Anestopoulos says, even if you’re on a budget. A professional photographer is skilled at making models feel comfortable and setting up complicated lighting. Other additions to your photoshoot team include stylists, makeup artists, and assistants. While working with skilled people will yield better results, it doesn’t have to blow your budget.

Working with professionals includes the models in the shots too. Even if you have a friend who you think fits the bill, it’s better to hire someone with experience. “People who are pretty in real life are not necessarily photogenic,” says Anestopoulos. “Find a model who’s actually a model.”

“Real” models don’t have to break the bank either. “There are always people who are looking to build their book or willing to work for product,” she says. “It’s not about taking advantage of people—you’re all new to the game. If you get a group together, join forces, you can create magic together.”

When shooting your photos, it’s also important to offer two different views and angles of your products:

  • On white. Minimizes distraction and highlights the details and different angles of the piece; offers a clean, consistent look on collection pages. (Note “white” can also mean another solid color or minimal pattern, like the marble in the example below).
  • Lifestyle. Shows scale on the body and suggests styling ideas to customers (often great for upselling—you can nudge customers to combine multiple pieces into one look). These shots can work on product pages or in a lookbook, and are generally better for social media posts.
Wolf & Moon's combination of product photography with and without models
Wolf & Moon uses a combination of white background photography without models, and contextual shots featuring the jewelry on humans.

Looking for more ways to cut costs? Partner with complementary apparel brands to reduce photography expenses, or lend your pieces to fashion editors for photoshoots in return for product photos and exposure.

Additional reading:

Building your online storefront

Now that you have your products, branding, and photography nailed down, let’s put it all together. In a matter of hours, you can set up a functioning ecommerce store on Shopify.

Consult Shopify resources to help with initial basic setup of your store. But first, sign up for a free trial:

 

Choose a theme that complements jewelry, putting the photography first. A Shopify Design Expert can help you tweak any theme, customizing it to your specific needs. Here are a few theme suggestions for jewelry businesses:

The Birds N Bones design emphasizes big visuals and clean, simple design
The Birds N Bones design, which makes use of the Pipeline theme, emphasizes big visuals and clean, simple design.

There are several add-ons in the Shopify App Store to improve the customer experience, reduce returns, and increase conversions. Here are a couple examples for jewelry businesses:

  • Jewelfie. Allow customers to “try on” jewelry by uploading photos of themselves.
  • Loox – Photo Reviews. Collect and add customer photos reviews to your site.

When it comes to the words on the page, you’ll want to make sure it complements the visual aesthetic you’ve created with your design and product photos. Product descriptions should reflect your brand story and include details like sizing, materials (important for metal allergies), and, if applicable, material sources.

Walker's Jewelers
Walker’s Jewelers has a comprehensive ring sizing guide so customers can purchase the right fit. This also helps reduce returns and exchanges for improperly fitting rings.

How to market your online jewelry business

Fashion and jewelry are heavily saturated industries—how will customers hear your voice above the noise? Where to spend your marketing dollars will depend on your product, audience, and budget, and may require some trial and error.

Anestopoulos put her money on PR and won. Noticing heightened competition in 2011, she invested in a rebrand and then hired a PR firm to get the word out about Biko. “It’s expensive to work with PR but really, really valuable,” she says. “It led to the best press I had to date. I sold $5,000 of one particular bracelet after it was featured.”

Anestopoulous has also had success with Instagram influencers, bartering product for a dedicated post. Before reaching out, she says, be sure your Instagram curation is strong, so that influencers can see if your brand aligns with their own. “Creating a lifestyle around what you do is worth more than anything,” she says.

If you’re not sure how to do that with your Instagram curation, Anestopoulous has some advice. “I recommend posting inspirational images,” she says. “After awhile, you’ll realize that you’re inspired by a similar stream of things and it tells its own story.”

Tip: Try marketing apps like FourSixty‘s Shoppable Instagram & UGC to supercharge your Instagram account, and Kit to simplify Facebook, Instagram, and email marketing.

Pop-up retail and artisan shows

Anestopoulous’s career began when she was invited to share a booth at a local clothing show to sell her creations. At the time, it was simply a hobby. She sold out on day 1 of a 2-day show, validating her designs and helping to turn her hobby into a business.

Small craft shows and pop-ups are not only a great way for emerging brands to gain exposure to built-in audiences and validate an idea—they’re also important for established online businesses, she says.

“I do the One of a Kind Show twice a year, which is a good chance to get out and see customers in person, and get feedback directly,” she says. “Sample sales are fun too; they’re a good way to liquidate older merchandise and also invite people into your space and process.”

Biko uses pop-ups and events to generate buzz
Biko uses pop-ups and event selling for a number of reasons: to move aging stock, build buzz, generate brand awareness, and to simply have fun.

Anestopoulous also grew her business initially through consignment and wholesale agreements, which she gained by approaching local retailers in person. Cold calling has a high rejection risk, but you just need one “yes” to get started.

Wholesale still accounts for approximately 65% of Biko’s overall business, and she now works with large retailers like Nordstrom, Simons, and Hudson’s Bay Company. 

The silver lining

“Jewelry is a very saturated market but I think the best way to stand out is to be authentic, trust your design instincts, and listen to your customers,” says Gillian Johnson of Hawkly.

That said, many successful jewelry designers and merchants made their debut as a side gig. Small-scale production means you can get designing from your kitchen table. Go for gold!


Ready to create your own jewelry business? Start your free 14-day trial of Shopify—no credit card required.





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Finding Happiness and Success Your Own Way

Finding Happiness and Success Your Own Way


We hear about happiness and success everywhere we look.

These themes are in movies, TV shows, books – you name it. We start hearing the messages when we’re just kids. We get all sorts of tips about life and the things we should and shouldn’t do.

And it never really goes away.

We all want to be happy and successful. To look back on our lives when we’re old and gray, and think to ourselves, “Dang. I totally nailed it. I have zero regrets.”

But the problem is that most of us aren’t sure what these words actually mean or how to get there. Some of us are already there and don’t even know it yet!

So what can we do to make sure we’re fitting the pursuit of happiness and success into our daily lives? How can we know for sure that we’re working toward goals that never really feel tangible?

That’s what I’m here to dissect with you.

Let’s look at 7 tips about life that you can use to help find your perfect blend.

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It’s Not Happiness vs. Success – It’s a Balance

balance between happiness and success

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There’s a lot of conflicting advice out there that pits the two against each other. Tips to live a happy life can directly contradict tips to be successful in life.

For example, you might hear a lot of talk about #hustleandgrind. You have to try as hard as you can all the time or you’ll never achieve your goals.

On the flip side, you hear about how important self-care is and how you need to work “smarter not harder” so you can still have time to yourself.

It’s hard to reconcile everything.

Should you push the bounds of exhaustion and misery to find business success? Or should you sacrifice business success (and accept being broke) so you can spend more time doing what you truly love?

The hard part is that there’s no clear answer. And all of this advice holds some truth and value.

But you need to find the right balance for you – not just what some millionaire self-help guru tells you.

With all this in mind, let’s get into tips and life hacks that can help you strike that balance.

1. Define What Happiness and Success Mean to You

Before you get stuck in a vortex of other people’s tips about life, take some time to reflect on your own goals, desires, needs, and values.

Do some fantasizing. What is it that you really want? Think about your wildest dreams as well as your mildest ones.

  • Do you want fame and extravagant fortune?
  • Do you want just enough money to pay your bills while being able to have some vacations and nice things along the way? 
  • Do you want esteem and respect from your peers?
  • Is your main focus not on money at all, but on your virtue and relationships?
  • What keeps you awake at night?
  • What makes your heart race with excitement?

Ask yourself these big questions and work your way down to smaller ones, like the things that make you feel the most joy in your day-to-day life, and one thing that you could change if you had the opportunity.

This kind of reflection might seem obvious, but it’s not something that most of us take the time to really dig into. (I know I didn’t for a long time… and the questions were hard to answer!)

You might find that your goals and values don’t really align with the people you’ve been surrounding yourself with or the things you thought you’ve always wanted.

And that’s totally okay. Dare I say it’s surprisingly normal.

Once you have some revelations – or just confirm where you thought you were all along – you can focus on the life tips and tricks that will help get you there.

2. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Maybe this wasn’t what you were expecting as the first tip. But hear me out. This is incredibly important.

There’s a huge amount of research that shows the physical and mental health benefits of gratitude.

According to Glenn Fox, neuroscientist and gratitude expert at the University of Southern California:

Benefits associated with gratitude include better sleep, more exercise, reduced symptoms of physical pain, lower levels of inflammation, lower blood pressure and a host of other things we associate with better health.

This is one of those secret tips to live a happy life: take some time every day to reflect on what’s already good. When you do this regularly, you’re shifting your mindset at a core level.

This sets you up to be more positive and motivated – and more resilient when things don’t go the way you planned. You might also find that there’s already a lot of happiness and success in your life that you never gave credit to.

Keeping a physical gratitude journal is a great way to make sure you’re making this a daily practice. All you have to do is write down one thing you’re grateful for every day.

It doesn’t have to be a big or poetic thing either. You can say your dog, your computer, your weird-but-fun boss, your friends, your favorite pair of shoes… you get it.

tips about life

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3. Be More Mindful and Self-Aware

Do you ever feel hijacked by your thoughts or emotions to the point where it ruins your day?

Maybe your pitch got rejected or you were blasted by an unhappy customer or you had a fight with your partner. Then you try to focus on all the other million things you need to do, and you just can’t be productive.

It feels like your day is wasted. You’re upset because you’re upset.

It’s a vicious cycle and it’s more common than you might think.

But what if you could stop a bad day in its tracks? What if you could self-soothe and deal with the overload upfront instead of letting it take over?

That’s what a mindfulness and self-awareness practice can help you achieve. Here are some life tips for making that happen, based on Mayo Clinic:

  • Pay more attention. Pause to take in the sights, sounds, and sensations. What does your body feel like? What does your food taste like? What do you see and hear right now?
  • Do breathing exercises. Focus on your breath when you’re feeling worked up. Are you breathing fast? Try to slow it down and feel the air coming in and out for a few minutes.
  • Meditate. Sitting, standing, walking – any meditation is fair game. If you’re not sure where to start, check out my favorite app Ten Percent Happier (they call it “meditation for skeptics,” which feels spot-on for me).
  • Send a thank you note. Write someone a thank you note for something they’ve given you or helped you with. You can even thank your best friend for being awesome. Send your notes as a proper letter or a quick text or email.

4. Use “Habit Stacking” to Build Good Habits

This is one of my favorite tips on how to be successful in life. 

When people struggle with achieving their goals, they’re often having trouble sticking with the habits they want to adopt.

When you’re busy af, it can even feel like too much to add a small goal like meditating for 5 minutes a day, doing 10 pushups, reading 15 pages of a book, or taking 20 minutes to plan your schedule for the day.

Habit stacking is a one of those life hacking tips that tricks your brain into being more productive.

To habit stack, group together whatever small habits you want to add to your daily routine. That way, they become one habit instead of a bunch of small ones.

The key here is to start with just one or two new habits, then build onto it later with more habits once the routine has become a solid part of your day.

habit stacking tips about life

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To learn more about habit stacking and apply it to your own awesome life tips, check out this helpful article from Develop Good Habits.

5. Start With the Smallest Doable Step

Sometimes, we have such big, lofty goals – that require so much work and dedication – that we intimidate ourselves into never starting.

Maybe it’s just too much to handle. Maybe we’re scared of failing. Maybe we just flat out don’t feel like doing all the hard stuff.

The good news is that learning how to be successful in your life starts with baby steps. Look at a big goal and break into steps. If those steps still feel too big, break it into even smaller steps.

Still too big? Go on… make them smaller. 

Then commit to doing just one right now and see where it goes.

This is one of those life changing tips for me. You can apply it to pretty much anything:

  • Want to start a dropshipping business but you’re overwhelmed by all the information? Start today by signing up for a free Shopify and Oberlo account. You can think about what to sell tomorrow.
  • Want to be a marathon runner but feel exhausted after work? Commit to putting on your sneakers and walking just one block. Maybe you’ll get momentum to run a mile. Maybe you won’t.

productive vs unproductive list

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6. Don’t Fall into the Trap of “I’ll be happy when…”

Have you ever made your happiness or success dependent on something that doesn’t exist yet? Things like:

  • I’ll be happy when my business makes $100,000.
  • I’ll be happy when I can buy my dream house.
  • I’ll be happy when I get that promotion.
  • I’ll be happy when this project is over.

While this if/when mindset can be seen as perfectly healthy goal-setting, it can also have a dark underbelly.

There’s the obvious risk of the long-term or more audacious goals never happening. But there’s also the more insidious risk: you might be so focused on reaching a certain goal that you never stop to enjoy and celebrate the little wins. 

And if you do hit those milestones, you’re likely to just set a higher one instead of stopping to enjoy what you’ve accomplished.

This is part of our “never enough” culture – it can be wildly rewarding, but it can also set us up to never really enjoy our lives and what we have right now.

It can also add a whole lot of extra stress and feelings of inadequacy to our days.

Pay attention to these kinds of thoughts and try to make sure they’re counter-balanced. Gratitude is a great way to do that.

easy life tips

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7. Go Easy on Yourself During the Hard Times

When your to-do list is a mile long, it’s common to fall short. Sometimes you’re in a rut and fall short for days, weeks, or even months at a time.

This is completely normal. What’s also completely normal is the tendency to beat yourself up when it happens.

But there’s a lot of research that shows that people who show themselves more compassion are more likely to succeed in the long run.

Here’s what The University of California, Berkeley says:

Research shows that when people treat themselves kindly, rather than critically, they are more likely to believe they can improve, correct mistakes, and re-engage with goals after veering off course. In contrast, self-criticism is linked to procrastination, stress, and rumination—none of which motivates people to continue pursuing a goal.

Simply put: self-compassion sets you up for more happiness and success in life.

Instead of beating yourself up every time you don’t meet your goals, give yourself some credit for the hard work you’re putting in, and accept that some days just aren’t going to be amazing.

self compassion

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In a world where you’re constantly doing too much and not enough at the same time, you’re the only person who can define your own happiness and success.

While some people think that success is what makes happiness, I think that you need to cultivate your own happiness as a springboard into success.

When you can get yourself into the right mindset, that’s where you can unleash the power of human potential and do absolutely incredible things.

But to do this, you’ll need to take in the bad with the good. To accept your failures just as you accept your victories. To make sure you’re taking care of your mental and physical health while you hustle and grind on your financial health.

When you strike this delicate-but-powerful balance, there’s no stopping you.

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Amanda Gaid

Amanda Gaid

Amanda Gaid is a digital marketer and copywriter who helps brands create awesome content that drives engagement and better business. As a seasoned digital nomad, her trusty laptop is her best friend.





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What Sort of Background Do You Need To Be a Successful Entrepreneur?

What Sort of Background Do You Need To Be a Successful Entrepreneur?


As an aspiring business owner, you must have read stories about successful entrepreneurs and how they got to where they are today.

It may seem like a far-fetched dream for you. After all, you don’t have their natural business acumen, marketing talent, and knack for picking out winning products.

Or so you think. 

Today, we’re here to set that mindset straight.

What may seem like an easy road to success is never really so. Behind the trained eyes, knowledge, and skills of these business owners lie paths fraught with obstacles.

They’ve all overcome it. But what sort of background and experience did they require?

Read on because, in this post, we’ll be exploring the diverse experiences of some successful merchants so you know what you need to succeed.

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Adrien Taylor

Adrien Taylor stands in front a wall with graffiti

Aside from being a former journalist and photographer, Offcut founder Adrien Taylor also had some entrepreneurial experience in starting and running a marketing company.

Selling physical products, especially fashion-related ones, however, was completely foreign to him.

Unfazed by his lack of experience, Adrien was determined to save discarded fabric from his father’s curtain business. He pushed ahead with his idea to start a business selling products manufactured with those offcuts.

From doing industry research to looking for manufacturers, he powered through using his instincts. 

“I just did what any entrepreneur would do – had the idea and then found the right people who could make it happen,” says Adrien.

Now, after being the proud owner of Offcut for around five years, Adrien has recently sold the business and is moving on to new pastures.

Ahmed Hadi

Ahmed Hadi in the outdoors

Ahmed Hadi’s story is quite different from Adrien’s.

The young entrepreneur graduated high school as recently as Spring 2019. Instead of going straight to university, he deferred it for Finland’s mandatory conscription service, where he discovered dropshipping from a friend.

He only had a vague idea of how to go about it but decided to give it a go anyway.

His first store failed. So did his second and third. But instead of giving up after each failure, he learned from the mistakes of each store and persisted.

Today, not only has he driven his business to success in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, but the ambitious Ahmed is also exploring plans to scale and expand to foreign, untapped markets – all while attending university.

“I think it serves as a great example for beginners about how dealing with issues instead of letting them drag you down really pays off,” says Ahmed.

Kamil Sattar

Kamil Sattar ecom king

Kamil Sattar’s journey to success didn’t involve school. In fact, he says he “failed school completely.”

When he was 15, he had a passion for luxury goods. But he was unable to afford them with the income from his retail job and began to explore ways to earn more money. 

Ultimately deciding that he wasn’t cut out for school-based education, Kamil quit school, his college plans, and his job to start a business in the buying and reselling of high-end products.

Today, Kamil is earning more than $8,000 a day from five different businesses.

To him, it was his determination that set him on his path to success.

“The thing that separates me from everybody else is I just don’t give up. As soon as I want something, I go and manifest it and I take it,” says Kamil.

Ryan Carroll

Before the coronavirus hit, successful merchant Ryan Carroll was living the envious life of running a business while globetrotting. 

But he didn’t get there with the conventional backing of a business degree. In fact, it was quite the contrary.

Going against family’s wishes for him to attend college (and a high school teacher who told him he’d end up working at McDonald’s for the rest of his life if he didn’t), Ryan gave ecommerce entrepreneurship a shot.

Ryan eventually found success, but it didn’t come easy and certainly wasn’t without a few failures along the way.

Today, he credits his achievements to his hours spent on learning from experienced ecommerce entrepreneurs online and persistence in making it work.

And as a successful business owner himself now, he has one advice for aspiring entrepreneurs:

“Learn as much as possible, and don’t give up in the beginning.”

Courtney White

Courtney White

Like Ryan, online store owner Courtney never went to college, which was something that had always made her feel insecure. 

“I didn’t feel as good as somebody who had a college degree and always having to prove myself in these jobs that I had,” says Courtney.

Although Courtney has a tech background and never had trouble designing websites, she didn’t know if it was enough to go on to get the success she coveted. 

“I had no idea what I was gonna sell, didn’t really do the research that I needed to in the beginning,” says Courtney.

After a lot of hard work, Courtney finally made it. She’s the face behind Finer and Dandy, a successful ecommerce store that specializes in baby clothes. 

And she attributes her achievements, not to something specific she studied or learned online, but her experience as a mom. 

I honestly feel that if I wasn’t a mom myself and didn’t have many areas that I can relate to my audience on, I may not have had the success. – Courtney White

Conclusion

On paper, there’s no one background that unites these entrepreneurs.

But if you dig a little deeper, there is an obvious quality that defines every single one of them – their grit and determination to go against the odds, persevere through failure, and make it work.

So what do you need to succeed in entrepreneurship? It’s not a set background, fixed education, or career path, but rather, ambition and perseverance.

Or in the words of Bill Bradley:

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in.

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Ying Lin

Ying Lin

Ying Lin is a journalist-turned-content marketer who is on a journey to help companies scale. She is also the co-founder of Dear Content, a content marketing boutique.



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Meet 9 Socially Responsible Founders Creating Change Through Business — Inspiration

Meet 9 Socially Responsible Founders Creating Change Through Business — Inspiration


We are in constant awe of how social entrepreneurs use Shopify to build businesses that don’t just meet consumer needs or fill market gaps but create movements that are driven by the causes they believe in. 

Beyond the products and services they sell, founders of socially responsible businesses and social enterprises are building for the future by creating systems that create change. They operate with moral imperatives that let them navigate business decisions while keeping the community, economy, and environment in mind.

We spoke with nine of these founders to learn more about how they’re providing employment opportunities for the previously incarcerated, directly trading with farmers, creating products with a low carbon footprint, and so much more. 

What does it mean for a company to be socially responsible?

While traditional companies see corporate social responsibility as an additional project outside their main goal of profit, socially responsible businesses maintain lifelong relationships with nonprofit partners and social enterprises, creating ventures that are cause-driven and powered by social objectives. 

Through this new wave of change in commerce, founders like the ones listed below are showing that organizations of all sizes and stages can connect profit with a positive impact.

Beelove is a line of all-natural honey and honey-infused body care products made by Sweet Beginnings, a social enterprise based in Chicago. Sweet Beginnings extracts its honey from the urban apiaries in the heart of the North Lawndale community and employs individuals returning from incarceration, offering a fresh chance at civilian life. 

Founded by Brenda Palms Barber, the organization originally wanted to address North Lawndale’s 40% unemployment rate by providing training for landscaping or small motor repairs, but found its sweet spot with beekeeping. 

People have a fear of bees and getting stung. People also have this perception about people who have been incarcerated.

“There’s an interesting parallel between bees and people returning to society from being incarcerated,” says Daphne Williams, the company’s Chief Growth Officer. “People have a fear of bees and getting stung. People also have this perception about people who have been incarcerated. So having a business that married bees and formerly incarcerated people was a way to take the stigma out of both.” 

Brenda Palms Barber, founder of  Sweet Beginnings poses with some beelove products.
Brenda Palms Barber founded Sweet Beginnings as a social enterprise to address the high unemployment rate within North Lawndale, Chicago. Sweet Beginnings

 

Working closely with the North Lawndale Employment Network, an organization that provides cognitive behavior therapy and training for re-entering the job market, Sweet Beginnings acts as a possible employer to program participants. As Daphne highlights, hiring previously incarcerated individuals “is all about giving people confidence that they can actually go out and start looking for a job on their own” once their work term with Sweet Beginnings ends.

A beekeeper holding up a honeycomb tray.
Taking the sting out of the fear of bees and previously incarcerated individuals, Sweet Beginnings is marrying the two as a way to reduce unemployment. Sweet Beginnings

Sweet Beginnings initially started selling Beelove products in the same community it was caring for. Local farmers markets and events proved to be great places to showcase Beelove’s products and have employees reconnect with the public. Demand from the community also led to co-ops and retailers carrying Beelove products. “It’s really about the alignment and the recognition of the work that we’re doing in the community that has afforded us the opportunity to be in these retail spaces,” says Daphne. As bigger business opportunities arrive and production scales, Daphne and her team are focused on finding the right balance between cause and commerce while putting their community first.

The richness and depth of ChocoSol’s chocolate and coffee reflect the social impact that this education-oriented social enterprise is making. But becoming a bean-to-bar chocolate maker and coffee roastery was almost an accident for founder Michael Sacco. 

“I was working on solar technology for roasting coffee and cacao with Indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico,” says Michael. “But everyone was more excited about the chocolate and coffee than the renewable energy technology.” The pivot from technology to food allowed Michael to use chocolate and coffee as a vehicle for ecological regeneration, education, and economic impact. 

 Michael Sacco, along with Don Flor, one of the farmers in Mexico who works directly with ChocoSol
Founder of ChocoSol, Michael Sacco, along with Don Flor, one of the farmers in Mexico who works directly with ChocoSol. ChocoSol

The ChocoSol team works directly with farmers on Indigenous forest gardens in Oaxaca and Chiapas to improve diversity of their natural ecosystems by focusing on “polyculture” farming, where diverse crops are grown together, unlike traditional commercial farms, which only farm one lucrative crop.

I was working on solar technology for roasting coffee and cacao with Indigenous communities in Oaxaca, Mexico, but everyone was more excited about the chocolate and coffee.

“They’re built into a communal land rotation which gives way to three sisters (winter squash, maize, and beans), forest gardens, and semi-wild forests. This cycle takes place over 100 years,” says Michael. This long-term mentality—keeping future generations in mind—is how Michael carries out all areas of business. From operating as a learning community for knowledge sharing and passing on the art of chocolate making, to ensuring packaging materials are biodegradable and sourced sustainably.

A selection of ChocoSol’s chocolate, wrapped in biodegradable packaging.
A selection of ChocoSol’s chocolate, wrapped in biodegradable packaging. ChocoSol

Working directly with independent farmers is also Michael’s way of bringing economic opportunities to the Indigenous communities of Oaxaca and Chiapas. “Both fair trade and organic certification are a barrier to entry when you’re dealing not with one big plantation but with 150 independent producers in a region,” says Michael. These smaller farmers lack the language and financial resources to get certified, even though their products are already grown organically. ChocoSol has always paid above the Fair Trade requirements to ensure its farmers and families are paid fairly.

A chocolate bar framed with some cocoa nibs and cocoa beans.
Working directly with farmers is a chance for ChocoSol to directly impact the economy of communities in a positive way. ChocoSol

Moving forward, Michael and team are taking up local projects to regenerate farm lands in Canada. Food waste from cacao roasting, which includes the burlap sacks the cacao is shipped in, are used to create a biochar that can be used as an all-natural fertilizer. “We’ll be working with a local farmer near Hamilton, Ontario, to do a series of ecological regenerative planting of polycultures,” says Michael. “We’ll have a tree planted on the north part of the mountain, annual crop planted on the top of the mountain, and a perennial crop of possibly strawberries, mint, fiddleheads, or sweet grass planted on the south side of the mountain.”

TAMGA Designs creates sustainable clothing from trees. Life and business partners Eric and Yana Dales are not just creating fashion pieces but a sustainable lifestyle movement and are sharing the lessons they learn to inspire change within the industry. 

Eric and Yana worked as humanitarian aid workers in Bangladesh, immersed in communities heavily impacted by the effects of fast fashion. “We were seeing many social and environmental problems. We had to start TAMGA to prove that it could be done better,” says Eric.

The TAMGA Designs team: founders Yana Dales and Eric Dales and head designer Anna Valero Domenech.
The TAMGA Designs team: founders Yana Dales and Eric Dales and head designer Anna Valero Domenech. TAMGA Designs

The Dales’ initial undertaking was to establish a socially and environmentally responsible supply chain that goes beyond traditional corporate social responsibility measures. Eric and Yana spent a lot of time searching for alternative fabrics with low environmental impact. TAMGA’s pieces are made with Lenzing Modal, created from sustainably managed European forest beech wood, or Tencel made from eucalyptus wood, a renewable resource that doesn’t infringe on land for food crops. Their Tencel fabrics are also processed into fiber through an award-winning closed-loop process, where 99.8% of the water and solvents used are recycled. Each part of their supply chain, from fabric mills to cotton farms, sewing factories to packaging makers, are listed on their website, not only for transparency, but also to share knowledge with others in the industry. 

A garment worker in a production facility of TAMGA Designs.
Every step in TAMGA Designs’ process is publicly available, for both transparency and knowledge sharing. TAMGA Designs

TAMGA Designs also shares its process for being a carbon-neutral company. By extensively tracking its carbon footprint for shipping to various countries through different methods, it then purchases offsets from Gold Standard. “These projects are not only going to bring back carbon absorption capacity into the environment, but they’re also going to create jobs and benefit the communities where those projects are run,” Eric says. 

Yana Dales models one of TAMGA Designs’ sustainable pieces.
Yana Dales models one of TAMGA Designs’ sustainable pieces. TAMGA Designs

The Dales are staying true to their main reason behind starting TAMGA Designs: knowledge sharing is at the heart of their attempt to motivate other brands to adopt more responsible business practices. Eric stresses that, “It’s important for businesses to understand that investing in sustainability, if done correctly, is a good investment in their business as a whole.”

Satya is a natural skincare company producing products that are plant-based as well as fragrance- and steroid-free. Made with just five organic ingredients, Satya’s line provides relief to soothe and restore dry skin. 

Patrice Mousseau started Satya in 2013, soon after her daughter, Esme, was born and experienced a severe case of eczema. After being prescribed steroid creams and learning the dangers of using it on infants, Patrice leveraged her research skills as a journalist to find a natural alternative. “I made my first batch in my Crock-Pot, and it cleared up Esme’s eczema,” Patrice says. 

With much of the formula left over, she offered some to friends on Facebook. Friends and friends of friends returned to Patrice and asked for more. “I had to make three more batches in the Crock-Pot right away, because I just could not keep up with people asking for it,” she says. 

Patrice Mousseau with the Crock-Pot that started her journey of launching Satya
Patrice Mousseau with the Crock-Pot that started her journey of launching Satya. Satya

Patrice never thought she would be launching a business and wondered if she would fit in the typical business world. But through the increase in demand from friends, she continued selling Satya’s balms on the side. She eventually started selling at farmers markets and events, which led to the attention of major retailers. “We ended up in about 70 stores in the lower mainland around Vancouver, just through word of mouth, and then Whole Foods wanted to start carrying our product,” Patrice says. That relationship skyrocketed Satya’s presence and saw Patrice’s homemade recipe distributed in over 400 stores.

The jar and stick format of the Satya formula for eczema relief.
Satya’s skincare formula, in jar and stick format, packaged in recyclable and reusable containers. Satya

As the brand’s retail presence brought in more sales through Satya’s online shop, and shipping played a bigger role in the business. “Instead of going to a fulfillment house, we hired stay-at-home moms in different regions,” says Patrice. “We ship them products, then they ship out to their own regions, which drops our shipping costs, employs them, and gets the products faster to customers.”

A jar of Sataya's product displayed with honeycomb.
Thinking creatively to benefit local economies, the environment, and her customers is how Patrice ensures each of Satya’s business decisions is as socially impactful as possible. Satya

Satya was Patrice’s way of solving an issue in a more proactive way, and for every decision that followed Patrice has applied the same creativity and determination. When Satya’s stick format had to incorporate plastic in its packaging, Patrice found the Plastic Bank as an offset partner. “We’re paying someone in a developing country to go to their local waterways and pull up plastic and then take that plastic to their local Plastic Bank depot,” says Patrice. “They exchange it for credits that can be used in medical care, educational, or household items.” On Satya’s environmental impact front, Patrice works with the Great Bear Rainforest to offset her carbon emissions. 

Instead of going to a fulfillment house, we hired stay-at-home moms in different regions. We ship them products, then they ship out to their own regions, which drops our shipping costs, employs them, and gets the products faster to customers.

Moving forward, Patrice is working on projects that will support other Indigenous communities and entrepreneurs, like herself. She knows firsthand how representation and support are important for communities to grow their economy and is finding ways to extend her impact back to areas like the one she grew up in, in northwestern Ontario’s Sioux Lookout.

Backcountry Wok makes nutritious and flavourful dehydrated meals that are packaged with 100% compostable materials—a product born out of a personal need for founder Melanie Ang. “My background is in marine biology, where I did a lot of fieldwork in the backcountry,” says Meanie. “I ate a lot of dehydrated camping meals, which were heavily packaged, and they created a lot of waste.”

Melanie Ang, founder of Backcountry Work holding one of her products.
Melanie Ang launched Backcountry Wok out of a personal need to create nutritious and flavorful dehydrated meals that are packaged with 100% compostable materials. Backcountry Wok

Melanie noticed how counterintuitive it was to have meals with negative environmental impact while completing conservation work. She also missed the flavor profiles and nutrition of meals she had at home, so Melanie started experimenting in her kitchen to create the dehydrated camping meals she wanted.

A package of Backcountry Wok's meals backdropped by snowcapped mountains.
Flavourful and nutritious dehydrated meals in biodegradable packaging is Backcountry Wok’s way of making camping more sustainable.  Backcountry Wok

As Melanie started her business journey by cooking, dehydrating, and getting her friends to taste test her meals, she felt a bit unsure about her lack of business experience. “That used to be my insecurity when I first started, but I find that it’s actually an asset,” she says. Leaning into her expertise in sustainability and conversation, Melanie was able to determine the guiding principles for Backcountry Wok and base her business practices and decisions on “a core sustainability component” instead of preconceived notions surrounding how a business should be.

A package of Backcountry Wok's meal backdropped by two campers.
Operating on a core sustainability focus has allowed Backcountry Wok to operate with values in mind for each decision it makes.  Backcountry Wok

Since launching in 2017, Backcountry Wok has come a long way from Melanie’s home kitchen. Moving from incubators to a shared kitchen and most recently a more spacious facility to keep up with demand, Backcountry Wok has seen substantial growth since the COVID-19 outbreak, as limited travel options led to more people camping, while restrictions on brick-and-mortar stores shifted customers online.

Our online sales this summer went up by a whopping 1,300%. 

“Our online sales this summer went up by a whopping 1,300%,” As Backcountry Wok scales, Melanie is incorporating education into its operations by collaborating with local businesses to host workshops on sustainable camping and outdoor practices.

Lauren Singer’s prominence in environmental activism was catapulted when her 2015 TedxTeen talk went viral. Showcasing how all of the trash she produced in the past three years fit into a 16-ounce Mason jar, Lauren shared her journey of carrying out a zero-waste lifestyle, something she documents on her site, Trash Is for Tossers. Moving beyond change on a personal level, Lauren started to look for environmental issues she could tackle on a macro level by creating businesses.

Lauren Singer with her Mason jar that contains all the waste she made in three years.
Often dubbed the face of zero-waste living, Lauren Singer reduced the waste she accumulated over three years to fit into one 16-ounce Mason jar. Package Free 

“I’m a problem solver, and I think the function of business is to solve problems,” says Lauren “More and more the problems of today are starting to center around climate change and the health and safety of our species and our planet.” Lauren zoomed in on the issue of laundry detergent and wondered why it was filled with chemicals that harmed our waterways and came packaged in plastic. 

Experimenting with natural ingredients like baking soda, washing soda, and castile soap, Lauren created The Simply Co., an organic laundry detergent that’s safe for the planet. “It’s my way to bring a product to market that I knew was safe and effective in order to take a stab at democratizing access to cleaner products,” she says.

Lauren Singer with laundry soap under her brand Simply Co. made from three organic ingredients.
Made with less than a handful of natural ingredients, The Simply Co. laundry detergent is safe for the environment and packaged in a reusable container. Package Free 

In the same vein, Lauren wanted to make it easier for consumers to find other alternatives to existing consumer goods that took less of a toll on the environment. As she discovered other businesses creating the products she envisioned, Lauren launched Package Free, a retail and online store that showcased sustainable alternatives to disposable items and household goods. “It’s a way to aggregate all of these really amazing consumer product companies making products that are safe for our homes, our bodies, and the environment,” Lauren says. 

Lauren Singer in the Package Free shop retail location in New York City.
Lauren Singer in the retail location of Package Free. Package Free 

Throughout the years and the scaling of both businesses, Lauren has always maintaineda dialogue with readers and customers on Trash Is for Tossers. Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Lauren shared the honest and personal news of breaking her zero-waste lifestyle. “COVID brought on a shift in the hierarchy of my values based on this new circumstance that we’re facing,” she says. “I think values can shift based on circumstance. So while zero waste was my number one priority pre-COVID, my number one priority right now is the health and safety of myself and the people I love, including my employees and my family members.” 

It’s a way to aggregate all of these really amazing consumer product companies making products that are safe for our homes, our bodies, and the environment.

Along with this transparency, the team at Package Free are working toward adapting to the impacts of COVID-19 by sourcing sustainable sanitizer and toilet paper, as well as creating education pieces on sustainability during the pandemic.

Olowo-n’djo Tchala was born in Togo to a large family comprising a collective of 42 siblings. To support his mother, Olowo-n’djo left school in the sixth grade to work on a farm, a common story within his community. 

In West Africa, we have all these resources as well as tradition and knowledge on how to use them but I couldn’t understand how those resources did not lift the poverty that we were living in.

“What I learned growing up in my village in Kaboli is the extreme level of poverty that we live in,” says Olowo-n’djo. “In West Africa, we have all these resources as well as tradition and knowledge on how to use them, but I couldn’t understand how those resources did not lift the poverty that we were living in.” For Olowo-n’djo, this meant a personal mission to find ways for the communities to leverage their resources and create economic opportunities. 

Olowo-n’djo Tchala in front of the Alaffia’s cooperative in Togo.
Olowo-n’djo Tchala in front of the Alaffia’s cooperative in Togo. Alaffia 

Olowo-n’djo then fell in love with Peace Corps volunteer Prairie Rose Hyde, moved to the United States, and completed his education at the University of California, Davis. In 2003, he formulated his idea of lifting Togo out of poverty by launching Alaffia and creating cooperatives to employ and empower women to develop natural resources into skin- and personal-care products, but banks and loan officers were not keen on the idea. 

“Prairie Rose’s brother was kind enough to put his house against the $50,000 loan and that’s what we used to start the cooperative with about just 17 women,” says Olowo-n’djo.

A collection of hair and skincare products from Alaffia.
Some of Alaffia’s top sellers feature African black soap as the main ingredient, as well as coconut oil and shea butter. Alaffia 

Today, Alaffia’s products feature shea butter, coconut oil, African black soap, and other indigenous ingredients, and are sold in major chain, from Whole Foods to Walmart to Target, as well as in Alaffia’s own online shop. Production of Alaffia’s products supports the livelihood of almost 14,000 women. 

The Alaffia Foundation, the company’s charity arm, runs projects that focus on maternal care, education, sustainability, and vision care. A project that empower and aid in education is the donation of bicycles, which enables young women to travel to school. “We have over 10,000 bicycles, mostly given to young ladies,” says Olowo-n’djo. “We see 90% retention in schools as opposed to having a 40% dropout rate previously.”

Team members of Alaffia at the gate of their cooperative.
Supporting the livelihoods of over 14,000 women, Alaffia is transforming natural resources in Togo into economic opportunities for the local communities. Alaffia 

As Alaffia scales even more, Olowo-n’djo says that his biggest challenge is shifting his priorities. “I used to put bicycles in the shipping containers myself, but I realize it’s better if I spend more of my energy working with the Togo government and the American embassy in Togo to facilitate when the containers arrive.” Prarie Rose and Olowo-n’djo both had a hard time letting go of tasks like packing orders and labelling their soaps, but they know it’s a necessary step for Alaffia and its communities to grow.

Childhood friends Pernell Cezar and Rod Johnson had a lifelong series of conversations about how they could serve their communities. “After decade-long professional careers in corporate America, we both, respectively, felt that there was a void in the business world, and we need to ensure that people in our own backyards were given equal access and resources in exchange for their patronage of this business,” says Rod. 

After decade-long professional careers in corporate America, we both, respectively, felt that there was a void in the business world, and we need to ensure that people in our own backyards were given equal access and resources in exchange for their patronage of this business.

The duo founded BLK & Bold as their way of making purpose popular and leveraged the daily ritual of enjoying caffeinated beverages into a way of giving back. BLK & BOLD pledges 5% of the profits from its coffee and tea sales to youth programs. 

Childhood friends Rod Johnson (left) and Pernell Cezar are the founders of BLK & Bold.
Childhood friends Rod Johnson (left) and Pernell Cezar started BLK & Bold to leverage the wholesale of coffee and tea as a way of supporting youth programs. BLK & Bold  

Being one of the first Black-owned nationally distributed coffee brands carries a lot of weight for Rod and Pernell. “Although it is humbling to serve and be in that position, it also makes us wonder why we are the first,” says Rod. “There hasn’t been much representation as merchants by people who consume the beverage as frequently as other demographics.” This platform and business model allow Rod and Pernell to support programs that enhance workforce development, eradicate food insecurities, and reduce youth homelessness.

“We’re very intentional about selecting that vulnerable demographic because of our own upbringing,” says Rod. “Pernell and I were both raised in Gary, Indiana, in ill-resource households. And we were fortunate to have a support system around us that allowed us to overcome the obstacles that we were initially faced with.”

A package of BLK & Bold coffee held by a hand against some retail shelves.
Rod and Pernell are using the platform provided by BLK & Bold, one of the first Black-owned coffee and tea brands to be nationally distributed, to create social change by supporting youth programs. BLK & Bold  

In addition to supporting vulnerable populations, BLK & Bold is showcasing its supply chain. When Pernell and Rod started their business journey, they were meeting suppliers directly and learning to roast coffee in their own garage. As the supply chain was always a crucial component for BLK & Bold The next area they want to shine a spotlight on is responsible farming and trading by showcasing how their coffee and tea travel from farm to cup.

TPMOCS is a community of Indigenous makers who produce baby moccasins. By providing employment opportunities for Montana’s Blackfeet tribe, TPMOCS aims to alleviate some of the pressures the community faces as a result of having a 69% unemployment rate

“My mom was very aware of the poverty and the challenges associated with growing up on the reservation and made a decision to move about an hour away so that we could still be close to our family but have access to better education opportunities.” says TPMOCS founder Maria Fisher Running Jones, who grew up in the Blackfeet community and experienced first hand the disadvantages of living on reservations.

Maria Fisher Running Jones founder of TPMOCS.
Starting TPMOCS was a way for Maria Fisher Running Jones to support her tribe.  TPMOCS  

From that turning point, Maria went onto law school and is now a practicing corporate lawyer. Even though supporting organizations that run programs for Indegenious communities is something Maria strongly believes and participates in, she wanted to create her own hands-on way of supporting her tribe. 

“One thing that the Blackfeet community is proud of and are quite good at is craftsmanship,” says Maria. Combining the arts of moccasin-making and beading, Maria modernized designs and proposed the tribe make baby moccasins, a product that is scalable and has a shorter production time. 

Baby moccasins by TPMOCS in the design of setting suns.
TPMOCS is highlighting the artistry of the Blackfeet Tribe and merging it with modern designs for baby moccasins. TPMOCS  

Since launching in 2014, TPMOCS have gained exposure from a Facebook showcase and mentions by celebrity Nicole Richie, which led to wholesale inquiries from major retailers. “We’ve struggled with a lot of growth opportunities because something has to give,” says Maria. “Large companies sometimes want 50%, but I still have to pay the artisans, pay for materials, and keep the business going, and it just can’t work.” 

Large companies sometimes want 50%, but I still have to pay the artisans, pay for materials, and keep the business going, and it just can’t work.

For Maria, the most important thing is to support the livelihoods of artisans. Her team is working on other projects that will include merchandise that’s even more scalable. In addition to donating back to the community with necessities and setting up scholarship grants, TPMOCS is looking for ways to expand its business model to other tribes, sharing Indengious culture, and supporting more communities. 

Change starts with the need to solve a problem

The founders of these nine businesses might be working in different industries and creating change in separate communities, but they all started because they wanted to solve a problem their own way. These founders might not have even envisioned being carried by large retailers or expanding internationally—they took on challenges step by step and eventually created the movements they are leading today. What are some areas where you envision a change? 



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An Introduction To HTML & CSS

An Introduction To HTML & CSS


It’s never been easier to start an online store. Thanks to platforms like Shopify, you can buy a theme, upload your products, and be selling to your customers in a matter of hours! The barrier to entry is so low that almost anyone can do it.

While it’s that easy to get started, it’s just as easy to take that simplicity for granted. Eventually, you’ll want to add or change something on your store and you’ll realize your theme doesn’t support it. Developers aren’t cheap and the last thing you want to do is have to pay someone else for something you could have done yourself.

What if I told you that you could spend a little time upfront to learn the basics of how websites work and you’d save some time and money down the road?

By the end of this article, you should know the basics of HTML & CSS and know enough to start tinkering in your own store.

So take a few minutes to get ready and let’s get started!

What is HTML & CSS?

HTML stands for Hypertext Markup Language. It’s one of the oldest and most important foundational languages of the web. It’s responsible for structuring and presenting the content on this very page!

CSS stands for Cascading Style Sheets. It’s responsible for providing the HTML it’s style and formatting.

Together, these are the necessary building blocks of any website. In this article, I’m going to walk you through the basics and show you how to code and style your first webpage.

Since I’m a huge fan of Bill Murray (who isn’t), we’re going to create our own shrine on the web to Bill.

First though, let’s dive deeper into HTML and CSS to really get a well-rounded understanding of their power and ability.

The Anatomy of a Website

We can easily understand how HTML and CSS work together by comparing them to the structural parts of a house.

Behind the walls of every house lies a frame responsible for its structure. Think of HTML like a house frame. It’s responsible for the structure of a website.

Sticking with our house analogy, CSS is responsible for things like paint colors, the dimensions of the dining room, the color of the wood floors, and the shape and style of the dining room table.

Let’s look at some basic HTML markup and walk through it line by line.

HTML Markup Example

Doctype

The <!DOCTYPE html> tag helps the browser know that the document type we want to work with is HTML.

Head

Inside the <head> tag is where we store all the metadata of our document. This data includes things like the title, styles (CSS), description, and more. This data isn’t displayed to the end-user, but browsers use it to determine what the document should be titled or what styles it should use when it does display it to the end-user.

Some other elements found in the <head> of an HTML page could include author information, the page description, or a link to an image used for the favicon (the little icon in a browser tab).

Favicon Example

Body

The <body> tag contains all the markup (code) for the website. This is the only code that the end-user will see when they view our site.

The Tools You Need to Build a Website

To get started writing HTML you might think that you need some fancy, expensive software, but you don’t. In fact, you already have what you need.

If you’re using a PC, open up the program NotePad. If you are on an Apple Mac, open up TextEdit.

Now that you have your text editing program open, follow along with me while we expand on the basic HTML markup above. Copy (Ctrl + C on Windows / Cmd + C on Mac) and paste (Ctrl + p on Windows / Cmd + P on Mac) the following code into your text editor.

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
<head>
<title>The title of your page</title>
</head>
<body>
<h1>Hello World!</h1>
<p>This is our first paragraph.</p>
</body>
</html>

Save this file on your desktop and open it in your web browser. You should now see your code translated, or rendered by the browser and it should look something like this:

Code Rendering Example

The Heading element (<h1>)

The <h1> tag is used when you want to bring attention and definition to certain text. In this instance, we want the text “Hello World!” to be larger and more prominent than the subsequent text.

Out of the box, HTML has six different heading tags you can use: h1, h2, h3, h4, h5, and h6.

HTML Heading Examples
The font size will get smaller every “step down” you take; H1 will be the largest and H6 will be the smallest. By default, they will have some margin (or spacing around them) to separate them from other elements on the page and to give the user visual hierarchy.

Take a minute to experiment with changing the title, heading, and/or paragraph tags. Once you make a change, save it, and then refresh your browser. Congratulations, you just edited HTML for the first time!

Looks boring though, right?

Let’s add some style to our page and learn more about the true power of CSS.

In order to add our own styles to these HTML elements, we need to add a <style> tag inside the <head> of our document.

This tag wraps around all our CSS. Think of what’s inside the <style> tag as the browser’s style guide. 

Under the <title> tag on a new line, add a style tag like this:

<title>The title of your page</title>

<style>

</style>

Inside the style tag is where we can enter all our declarations. A CSS declaration consists of a property followed by a value.

CSS Declaration

Let’s make the color of our <h1> different from the rest of our text because it’s the most important and we want it to stand out. Add the following between your <style> tags, save your file, and refresh your browser again.

<style>
h1 { color: blue; }
</style>

You should now hopefully see something that looks like this! You’ll notice that our “Hello World!” text is now blue. Simple, right?

CSS Modification to H-Tag

There, you’ve done it! You’ve successfully changed the style of an HTML element using CSS. Are we having fun yet?

Adding images to our page

There are many other elements you can include on your page, but one of the most prominent on any website is the almighty image. We can easily add an image by including the tag like so:

<img src=“https://www.fillmurray.com/400/500”>

Note: For the sake of demonstration, I’m using an image placeholder service called www.fillmurray.com. You can use an image on your local computer if you prefer that.

Alternate (Pro Tip) way of grabbing an image from a website: Find an image on a website you’d like to use and right-click on it. Click Copy Image Address and the URL of that image will be in your clipboard. Depending on your browser, the wording might be slightly different. I’m using Google Chrome. I’m not recommending the overuse of hotlinking but for this demo it’s not a big deal.

How to Save an Image from a Website

Copy and paste this image element and place it under your paragraph tag so your full code block looks like mine:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>The title of your page</title>
    <style>
      h1 { color: blue;}
    </style>
  </head>
  <body>
    <h1>Hello World!</h1>
    <p>This is our first paragraph.</p>
    <img src=https://www.fillmurray.com/400/500” alt=”image of Bill Murray”>
  </body>
</html>

Save your file and reload your browser and you should now see something like this:

How to Start Coding Your First Website

If you were paying attention, you noticed another attribute on the <img> tag, the alt=”image of Bill Murray”. Since the browser deciphers code and cannot see the rendered output like you and I, it needs some way to know the context of what it’s displaying.

By adding an ALT tag (alternative text) to our image, we can tell the browser what our image’s subject matter is about.

This is also very important for SEO (search engine optimization) and more importantly, this text is read aloud for blind users using a screen reader.

But What About Links?

No intro to HTML/CSS would be complete without covering links! When you’re building a website, you’re going to want the ability to link, whether that’s to external sources or to other internal pages within your own website.

Let’s talk about the anchor element. The real magic of an anchor element is actually its href attribute. Let’s demonstrate the structure of an anchor tag by adding a link to Bill’s Wikipedia page.

<a href=“www.google.com”>Read his Wikipedia entry</a>

This code is telling the browser that when a user clicks on the text: “Read his Wikipedia entry”, take them to www.google.com.

Let’s add this code right under our heading element so our code block now looks like this:

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html>
  <head>
    <title>The title of your page</title>
    <style>
      h1 { color: blue;}
    </style>
  </head>
  <body>
    <h1>Hello World!</h1>
    <a href=“https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Murray”>Read his Wikipedia entry</a>
    <p>This is our first paragraph.</p>
    <img src=“https://www.fillmurray.com/400/500” alt=“image of Bill Murray”>
  </body>
</html>

Hit save and refresh the browser and hopefully, yours looks like mine.

Coding Basics

Taking it Across the Finish Line

I went ahead and styled my little homage to Bill Murray and here is my final result. I will walk through some of the added styles below.

 

 

Drumroll please…

 

 

The Basics of HTML and CSS

Now, you can see that this isn’t anything to write home about, but that’s by design. This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how this page could look or be styled. I wanted to keep things simple so you understand what each of the styling methods below does.

Let’s jump into the little CSS I had to add to get us this far.

Styling the Body:

First, to the body of the page, I added:

body {
  background-color: #eee;
  font-family: Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif;
  text-align: center;
  margin: 25px;
}

background-color
I set the background color of the page to a very light grey using the hexadecimal color value #eee. You can learn more about those and see some examples here over at MOZ.

font-family
I wanted to change the font from the default Times New Roman browsers use. For this, I chose Helvetica as my first choice (if the user has that font installed on their computer), Arial as my second choice (if the user doesn’t have Helvetica, it will default to Arial), and as a final backup, a basic sans serif font.

text-align
I chose to have all the text on my page center-align. There are a couple of other options for values like left and right, but I thought for this it looked best centered.

margin
I added a little margin to the body of the document to give it some breathing room.

Styling our image:

Lastly, I styled Bill’s beautiful face, er, I mean the image element 🙂

img {
  border: 10px solid #41bcd6;
  box-shadow: 2px 5px 5px #999;
  padding: 10px;
  border-radius: 5px;
}

I didn’t do much but wanted to give Bill’s photo some presence on the page.

border
I added a 10px border around the image. The #41bcd6 is another hexadecimal color value which renders a light blue color (part of my secret subliminal Steve Zissou color theme).

box-shadow
I wanted to give the image a three-dimensional feel so I added a light shadow to it. The box-shadow property accepts pixel and color values that dictate the length, blur, and color of the shadow. To learn more about the box-shadow declaration, Moz breaks it down well for you here.

padding
To make the image look more like a picture frame, I added 10px of padding between it and the border.

border-radius
Just to illustrate one of the cooler abilities of CSS, I made the corners of the image rounded by using border-radius. When I started building websites, nothing like it existed, and producing rounded corners on the web was actually pretty challenging. We’ve come a long way since then, and now it’s rather simple. It accepts a value like px or ems, and here I chose just to round it enough to notice by setting the value to 5px.

Conclusion

Throughout this article we worked together to learn the basic anatomy of a website. We also learned some simple HTML and CSS which, ultimately, turned into a pretty amazing little one-page tribute to one of the all-time greatest actors of a generation 🙂

In all seriousness though, I hope you were able to follow along with me and build out your first basic website. Now if Bill Murray isn’t your favorite actor, I challenge you to edit this code to showcase your favorite actor, band, or whatever you’d like.

If you need to reference this code at any time, come back and read this article, or as a convenience, I’ve put it up on CodePen here.

There are so many fun things you can do with just HTML + CSS. Here are a few great resources for you to expand your learning:

We’ve seriously only scratched the surface in this article so I encourage you to read more, take some online courses, and keep pushing your knowledge!



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20 Ways to Find Motivation

20 Ways to Find Motivation


It’s not easy to motivate yourself. If you’re like many people, you know the drill:

  • Set the alarm early… then can’t get out of bed.
  • Write a to-do list… then get overwhelmed and escape into a Netflix-binge.
  • Get excited about goals… then feel guilty for not working on them.

These cycles seem like they’ll never end, right?

All the while, you feel drained, frustrated, full of self-doubt, and – sometimes, just sometimes – like you’ve fallen into a bottomless pit of darkness and despair.

Just me? Ah, okay. Anyway… 

Surely there are ways to find motivation, and – critically – stay motivated? Thankfully, there are.

Here are 25 ways to motivate yourself so that you can become the person you want to be and achieve your goals.

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How to Find Motivation

1. Just Start

Urgh. Don’t you just hate this advice? 

Still, there’s a reason we’ve all heard it a million times: it can work wonders.

You don’t always need to reason with your emotions or rationalize why you need to do something. You can deal with those negative feelings later on, at the right time. Instead, try setting aside all of the negative emotions and simply START.

As the famous writer Mark Twain once said: “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.”

Real Motivation: Mark Twain Quote

2. Break Tasks Down Into Small Steps

Woah… another piece of ground-breaking, never-heard-before advice, right?

Again, there’s a reason so many people recommend that you use this tactic when trying to motivate yourself – sometimes it’s the simplest things done well that work the best.

Remember, you can’t do everything at once. That’s why the painter Vincent Van Gogh said, “Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”

Here’s a method to help you find motivation to get things done: Write down what you need to do on a piece of paper. Then, write down every single step you need to take to make it happen. Finally, ignore everything except the step you’re working on.

Once in the flow, you may just find it easier to continue with the next task.

3. Create a Positive Mindset

Getting motivated is almost impossible if you’re looking at the situation from a negative viewpoint. On the other hand, positivity can be energizing and help you to motivate yourself.

So, pause and ask yourself, “what’s good about this situation?”

As the author Catherine Pulsifer said, “If we have the attitude that it’s going to be a great day it usually is.”

Getting Motivated: Catherine Pulsifer Quote

4. Create a Feeling of Gratitude

When you find yourself stuck in a rut, it can feel impossible to motivate yourself. So before you try to motivate yourself, take a step back and try to appreciate how you feel.

When you feel appreciation for yourself, it’s much easier to stay motivated.

One of the quickest ways to feel good about yourself is to practice gratitude – it’s almost entirely impossible to feel low and grateful at the same time.

To practice gratitude, start by writing down three things you’re grateful for. These could be anything – from your morning coffee, to your pet, or even the comfortable chair you sit on. 

Ideally, you could make this part of your daily routine to find everyday motivation.

5. Be Kind to Yourself

When you procrastinate or make a mistake, it’s easy to beat yourself up. In fact, if you’re like many people, you may find that you internally “speak” to yourself in a mean way. 

If you notice yourself doing this, pause and try to speak to yourself kindly instead. You wouldn’t speak to someone else that way, so why do it to yourself? You deserve your own kindness.

Try to remember your true inherent value as a human being. Then, allow yourself to gently come back to the task at hand.

6. Be Constructive

When you realize you’ve made a mistake or finally bring yourself back from a procrastination session, you have a golden opportunity to learn and improve.

Ask yourself, “Why did I make this mistake? How can I avoid making the same mistake in the future?”

If you do this and act on what you learn, you’ll transform mistakes into opportunities.

The entrepreneur Arianna Huffington said, “We need to accept that we won’t always make the right decisions, that we’ll screw up royally sometimes – understanding that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success.”

Everyday Motivation: Ariana Huffington Quote

7. Cut Your To-Do List Down

To-do lists can help us organize our tasks and focus on what’s important. However, they can also overwhelm us so much that we end up procrastinating even more.

So, if you find yourself struggling to stay motivated, cut your to-do list down to a more manageable size.

Each day, choose no more than three tasks and make that your new to-do list. Then, ignore all but the first item. You may find that with time, you can take on a longer to-do list.

8. Set Attainable Goals That Excite You

If you have a goal that feels too big or unattainable, it may make you feel crippled with anxiety and fear. This is a surefire way to prevent yourself from developing motivation.

For now, let go of goals that paralyze you. Instead, choose exciting enough goals to help you motivate yourself, but not so big that you freeze when facing them.

As the politician Theodore Roosevelt said, “Keep your eyes on the stars, and your feet on the ground.”

9. Imagine Your Future If You Don’t Change

This tip can make inspiring yourself easy: Instead of focusing on the change you want, imagine the life you’ll have if you don’t stay motivated.

Ask yourself, “What will life be like in one year, five years, and ten years?”

Here’s a motivational quote from an anonymous wise person: “You can either experience the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The choice is yours.”

Developing Self Motivation: Unknown Quote

10. Reflect on How Far You’ve Come

How often do you pause, reflect, and appreciate how far you’ve come?

If you’re like many people, you probably don’t give yourself enough credit for all the growth you’ve gone through.

Take a few minutes to close your eyes and remember your successes, however small – relive and feel into them.

Do this often to help you stay motivated.

11. Remind Yourself of Your “Why”

Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, said, “Motivation comes from working on things we care about.”

Take a moment to write down three reasons you want to find motivation to get things done. Do you want to improve your fitness, get an education, save money, or start a business

Why?

Keep coming up with answers until you find ones that will help you stay motivated.

13. Eliminate Distractions Mercilessly

Distractions are the enemy of focus. If you want to get motivated, you have to eliminate distractions.

As the billionaire investor Warren Buffett said, “The difference between successful people and very successful people is that very successful people say ‘no’ to almost everything.”

The saying goes, “You can have anything you want. However, you can’t have everything you want.”

So, turn your phone off and leave it in a different room. Close the door. Turn the music off. Delete distracting apps. 

Remind yourself that you are not punishing yourself – you’re just focusing on your goals. Then, remember what you truly want in the long-term.

Inspiring Yourself: Warren Buffet Quote

12. Commit 100% to the Deal You’re Making

Remember, nothing comes for free.

When you want something, you have to give something in return – whether it’s time, effort, hard work, or emotional discomfort.

That’s the deal.

Take a moment to recognize and appreciate the deal you’re making. Then commit to it 100%.  Maya Angelou, the activist and poet, once said, “Nothing will work unless you do.”

14. Declutter and Tidy

It’s extremely difficult to motivate yourself if you can’t see your bedroom floor and your desk looks like something has exploded on it.

Have you ever heard the expression, “tidy space, tidy mind”? 

What’s your environment like? Is it tidy, neat, and clean? Or is it messy and cluttered? Work from the outside in and create an environment that helps you to stay motivated.

15. Change Your Inputs

You know the saying, “you are what you eat.” And we consume a lot every day – food, music, podcasts, TV, social media.

So, if you’re finding it challenging to motivate yourself, mix things up a bit. Listen to motivational podcasts, check out a must-read book, or watch some inspiring videos.

This can help you to freshen up, get energized, and find motivation to get things done.

16. Look to People in Your Life for Motivation

Some people energize us, others we find draining.

The motivational speaker Jim Rohn said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”

So, when possible, seek out enthusiastic, motivated people to spend time with. Let yourself get wrapped up in their positive energy, and you may start developing self-motivation, too.

Things that Motivate You: Jim Rohn Quote

17. Ask for Help From Friends and Family

If you’re really struggling to motivate yourself, consider asking a close friend or family member for help. You could ask them to hold you accountable and check up on your progress.

By expressing your goals out loud to someone else, it can help to make them feel more real. Plus, if you know someone will check in on your progress, you may be more likely to follow through.

19. Follow Inspiring People Who Motivate You

There are so many inspiring people out there who can help you to motivate yourself. Is there an entrepreneur, teacher, musician, or politician you find inspiring? 

You can also learn how people you admire stay motivated, and then apply the lessons to your own life.

As the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “Smart people learn from everything and everyone, average people from their experiences, stupid people already have all the answers.”

Motivational Things: Socrates Quote

19. Listen to an Upbeat Song

If you need to motivate yourself quickly, try this super-simple tip: listen to a song you love that’s upbeat, inspiring, and full of energy.

For bonus points, dance like a crazy person at the same time.

Then, as soon as the song finishes, don’t pause – dive straight into action. It may become one of your favorite ways to stay motivated.

20. Remember Your Power and Potential

Look, you are powerful, and you have enormous potential. 

You may not feel like it sometimes, and you may even feel like I’m silly for saying it to you, but it’s true.

The author Alice Walker said, “The most common reason people give up their power is because they think they don’t have any.”

So, please, take a moment to dig deep and try to connect with your inner power and potential – imagine what you could achieve.

Become still. 

Then listen to that quiet voice in your head saying, “You can do this.”

Getting Motivated: Alice Walker Quote

How to Motivate Yourself: A Summary

Getting motivated can be tough – and it can be even more challenging to stay motivated. In summary, here are 20 ways to motivate yourself:

  1. Just start and wait for the motivation to catch up with you.
  2. Break tasks down into smaller, more manageable steps.
  3. Create a positive mindset by asking yourself, “what’s good about this situation?”
  4. Create positive feelings by writing down three things you’re grateful for.
  5. Be kind to yourself when you make a mistake, then come back to the task at hand.
  6. Know that mistakes are a necessary part of progress – accept and learn from them.
  7. Cut overwhelming to-do lists down and focus on just one thing at a time.
  8. Let go of goals that overwhelm you and set attainable goals that energize you.
  9. Imagine your future if you don’t motivate yourself.
  10. Reflect on your past successes and use the positive feelings to stay motivated.
  11. Remind yourself of the reason why you want to find motivation to get things done.
  12. Remember the trade-off you need to make to get what you want, then commit 100%.
  13. Eliminate the things that distract you and then focus on one thing to achieve your goals.
  14. Tidy space, tidy mind – declutter and organize your space to help motivate yourself.
  15. Stay motivated by experiencing different food, music, books, or podcasts.
  16. Look to people in your life who inspire and motivate you.
  17. Ask close friends and family to help hold you accountable.
  18. Follow people who inspire you online.
  19. Listen – and dance! – to an upbeat song. Then dive into action when it finishes.
  20. Connect with your true potential – you’re more powerful than you think.

Which item on this list resonated with you most? Have we missed any great ways to motivate yourself? Let us know in the comments below!

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Thomas J Law

Thomas J Law

Thomas is a B2B content writer specializing in SaaS, ecommerce, and digital marketing. To learn more about how Thomas can help you achieve your goals, visit his website at tomjlaw.com.



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Three Free Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Business in 2020: TikTok, Pinterest, Medium

Three Free Ways To Drive Traffic To Your Business in 2020: TikTok, Pinterest, Medium


One of the essential questions every entrepreneur needs to answer is how to reach customers.

The internet and digital media, in particular, have changed the way we live, make decisions, and spend money.

And as competition rises across various industries, businesses are looking for new ways to gain potential clients.

Even though there are platforms that allow us to reach millions of people organically, most businesses fail to do so because they don’t know where their ideal audience is and how to target them.

Paid ads, on the other hand, can have a good return on investment. But there’s a hidden potential of reaching millions of people organically if you know how to use today’s rising platforms.

TikTok, Pinterest, and Medium are a few of these opportunities. 

These are growing at a tremendous speed and allowing creators to tap into new audiences. And the marketers who know how to use them have the chance to reach people all over the globe without spending a penny on paid advertising.

ipad and iphone on table

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TikTok

TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing platform that was founded in 2016.

Over the past few years, it has spread like wildfire and become the most relevant competitor of Instagram.

During the COVID-19 lockdown, millions of new users worldwide joined the social network to watch entertaining or educational videos.

As of August 2020, more than 800 million people are using TikTok every month and the app has been downloaded more than two billion times.

The Content

The maximum duration of a TikTok video is 60 seconds. Yet the average length of viral TikTok videos is around 15 seconds.

Even though its user interface might first look confusing, creating and sharing videos on TikTok is actually really simple.

TikTok favors in-app creations, which means you don’t need a fancy camera or video editing tools to produce excellent videos.

Instead, you can use its internal tools and create stunning videos with ease.

While most people think of TikTok as a platform to share dance videos, thousands of entrepreneurs and businesses actually use the network to share educational content.

The Audience

While more than 40 percent of TikTok’s audience is aged between 16 and 24, more and more older users are joining the platform every day.

Most of today’s popular social platforms first started by targeting younger generations, and once they got used to the network, older generations joined.

Facebook started as a platform for students, yet many of today’s grandparents scroll through their news feeds every day. And the same will likely happen with TikTok.

If you’re serving an international audience, TikTok might allow you to reach more people organically than any other platform.

And if your target audience is younger than 30 years old, now is the best time to create a marketing strategy for your TikTok channel.

Companies such as Spikeball, Vessi, or Gymshark are already using TikTok successfully and reaching millions of new potential customers every month.

However, whether you’re a consultant, coach, or trying to build your personal brand, you might be able to benefit from TikTok’s massive reach. Even lawyers and doctors are using the platform to develop their brands and stand out from the competition.

The Benefits and How to Get Started

Even though TikTok’s audience is growing quickly, new creators still have great opportunities to build an audience through viral videos.

While it’s almost impossible for a post to go viral on Instagram without having lots of followers, it’s still likely on TikTok.

Right now, the app favors new creators and fresh content, so if you join the platform soon and share relevant content, you might get tens of thousands of views with ease. 

And by placing a link to your website or email list in your profile description, you can turn your TikTok audience into subscribers and paying customers.

black iphone on table

Pinterest

Pinterest was founded in 2009 in the US and is a visual search engine.

Even though many people know about Pinterest and have probably even used it as a source of inspiration, only few people understand how to use it as an effective marketing channel.

Yet, thousands of today’s blogs and online businesses rely on Pinterest as their primary traffic source.

The Content

On Pinterest, you create vertical images, known as Pins, to promote an article, a video, or a product.

When people click on that Pin, they end up on your website to read a blog post, watch a video, sign up for a newsletter, or make a purchase.

Pinterest works for businesses that sell physical products as well as those selling digital services and products.

Creating visually appealing Pins and writing engaging copy is what matters most in order to make people click on your Pin and go to your website.

The Audience

More than 360 million people use Pinterest every month. Yet what stands out is that over 70 percent of the users are women with strong purchasing power.

According to studies, 47 percent of Pinterest users browse through the platform to make a buying decision. These purchases are mostly tied to significant life events such as a wedding, a child’s birth, or a relocation.

However, online businesses that don’t sell physical products can benefit from the massive traffic on Pinterest too.

Personal Growth Base, for instance, is a website dedicated to helping people to become their best selves. On its Pinterest page, the brand shares Pins with blog posts’ titles to get people to read its content.

Once you click on one of the Pins and read an article, you have the opportunity to subscribe to a weekly personal development newsletter. And if you like the content, you can join an online course to dive even deeper.

The Benefits and How to Get Started

The main benefit of Pinterest compared to other platforms is that you can easily automate the marketing process.

Once you’ve created the Pins, you can schedule them with marketing tools such as Tailwind.

Pinterest is particularly relevant for two types of businesses:

A) Businesses with a catalog of existing content such as blog posts or YouTube videos. These companies can create a lot of content for Pinterest easily just by designing Pins for their existing content.

B) Businesses that sell products that are particularly appealing to women. Even though more and more men are joining the platform, it’s still dominated by females.

That’s why Pinterest is particularly promising for companies that target middle-aged women.

woman using laptop

Medium

Medium is an American online publishing platform that allows anyone to create and share written content.

The platform was founded in 2012 by Evan Williams, the co-founder of Twitter. Today, Medium is one of the 300 most visited websites and anyone can sign up and share articles in a few clicks.

The Content

Medium is dedicated to writing and consists of blog posts and stories of various forms.

While it might be hard for a fashion brand to grow a significant audience on Medium, it’s an excellent place for businesses that rely on content marketing through educational articles.

If you, for instance, launch a mindfulness app, Medium can be the perfect place to share articles about self-care, mindfulness, or meditation. Those who read your posts will likely be potential customers for your product or service.

Just like on Pinterest, Medium is also a great place to grow an email list for a knowledge-based company.

And if you’re selling online courses or a digital coaching package, you might find an interested audience on Medium that you can turn into subscribers and customers through a simple call to action at the end of your articles.

The Audience

What distinguishes Medium from other platforms is that more than 90 percent of its users are college graduates. While TikTok is all about attention-grabbing content, Medium readers want more in-depth knowledge.

Even though Medium is a platform with a worldwide community, most of its users are located in America and Asia. However, its European audience is growing at a particularly quick rate.

The Benefits and How to Get Started

With more than 100 million monthly readers, Medium is a massive opportunity for those who share high-quality written content.

Certain niches such as self-improvement, tech, or entrepreneurship are particularly popular. So if your business operates in one of these areas, you have the opportunity to reach your ideal customer by publishing relevant content.

In addition to its massive reach, Medium also has a high domain authority. With a score higher than 90, the website outranks most other pages. This makes it relatively easy for marketers to create content that can be found through Google searches.

That’s why it might be better to start your company blog on Medium instead of using your own website. But even if you publish your company’s articles on Medium, you can also republish them on your website and vice versa.

top shot of man, laptop, and marketing books

Final Thoughts

TikTok, Pinterest, and Medium are three effective ways to drive traffic to your website or online store in 2020 and beyond.

Even though these platforms aren’t new, most businesses don’t know how to use them effectively to reach their target audience. That’s why you can have a significant advantage by giving it a try and tapping into these platforms’ enormous audiences.

While all three platforms can be a source of free, organic traffic, your success and reach on each of them depend on your consistency.

On TikTok, you should aim to upload at least one to three videos per day. On Pinterest, you’ll need to schedule a minimum of ten Pins per day. And on Medium, your goal should be to publish high-quality articles at least once per week.

The more content you publish, the higher your chances of success on these platforms. And even though you don’t need to pay for the reach, you’ll need to invest lots of time to drive free traffic through these platforms.

Last but not least, marketing your business on these platforms will only work if you genuinely care about your audience and create content that is worth watching or reading.

With millions of videos and blog posts online, people can quickly distinguish between brands who care about their audience and those that don’t.

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Sinem Günel

Sinem Günel

Sinem Günel is an entrepreneur, coach, and writer. She is the founder of Personal Growth Base and a top writer on Medium.com



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