How to Profit from Affiliate Marketing in Any Niche

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A common myth I hear a lot from bloggers and online business owners is that they think they can’t make money with affiliate marketing unless they are in the B2B niche.  

This is untrue. I dispelled this misconception in my 5 Myths About Affiliate Marketing post, but I wanted to lay it out for you so that you can apply my process no matter what niche you are in.

It is all about changing your mindset and how you approach the process as an affiliate partner. It doesn’t matter what niche you are in; as long as you implement my 3-step strategy below, you can earn money as an affiliate partner.

There are a lot of different ways to earn money as an affiliate partner. The process I am going to walk you through is one of the easiest ways to get started.

If you are completely new to earning money as an affiliate partner, check out my Affiliate Marketing Beginners Guide.

How to Profit From Affiliate Marketing in Any Niche

There are a lot of different ways to earn money as an affiliate partner. The process I am going to walk you through in this post is one of the easiest ways to get started with earning a profit from affiliate marketing..

Step 1 – Target a niche specific keyword

Even if you have made money with affiliate marketing in the past, I don’t want you to skip this step because of the SEO benefits it will have on your content.

I recommend that you begin by doing a little bit of research so that you can target a specific keyword that you will be using. Take some time to do this step because a keyword or phrase that you may think is a popular term to target might not actually be what you need to focus on.

You need to get as specific as you can. For example, if your website is about organizing, you want to choose specific keywords and phrases like ‘Closet Organization Ideas’ or ‘Ideas for Organizing Your Bedroom Closet.’ 

Do not pick a general term like ‘How to Organize.’ The more specific the better. 

To help you pick keywords you can use the Google Keyword Planner; or an easy way to get started is by utilizing Pinterest. You can use the Pinterest search bar to help you come up with ideas. 

There are a lot of different ways to earn money as an affiliate partner. The process I am going to walk you through in this post is one of the easiest ways to get started with earning a profit from affiliate marketing..

For example, if I typed the word ‘organization’ into the Pinterest search bar it pulls up these terms:

Ideas for:

  • DIY
  • Bedroom
  • Hacks
  • School
  • Closet
  • College
  • Life
  • Tips
  • Kitchen
  • Bathroom

Each of these blocks below the search bar are the most popular terms and topics that people are searching for on Pinterest. You can start by typing in a specific term in your niche or the topics you write about on your blog to begin making a list of ideas.

This will give you a good starting point for a popular search term that is specific to your niche that you can target.

Make sure the keyword or phrase you pick for your industry is a topic that you feel comfortable writing about because you will be creating content around that subject.

I always recommend that you research a phrase to target so that you can drive more traffic to this affiliate post.

Action step: Pick a keyword or phrase that you want to target for your affiliate blog post.

Step 2 – Choosing the affiliate product

The next thing you need to do is decide the affiliate product or service you want to offer or promote to your readers. To do this, you need to hone in on what your audience is interested in.

This is extremely important. It doesn’t matter what niche you are in you, if you aren’t promoting the right products you will not be successful with affiliate marketing.

You don’t want to just pick any product or service to promote, because you are endorsing it and recommending your audience purchase it.

I always like to follow these 3 rules before picking an offer:

  1. It must be something that I have personally used and benefited from.
  2. It must be helpful to my audience.
  3. I must be able to show them why I like it rather than telling them.

If you are unsure where to start or what to offer, you can download a copy of my Affiliate Starter Guide.


Here are a few examples to get you thinking:

Food Niche:

  • Ingredients
  • Props
  • Cookware, dishes & utensils
  • Recipe Books & magazine
  • Camera & lenses
  • Lighting Kit

Fitness Niche:

  • Fitness & health magazines
  • Equipment you use
  • Fitness accessories & clothing
  • Supplements
  • Shoes

The affiliate product or service that you pick needs to be relevant to the keyword that you chose from step 1.

For example, if you chose the phrase ‘Small Closet Organization Ideas’, then a relevant affiliate product could be a specific small space organizer like a shelving unit or multi-purpose hangers.

The key is only picking one product or service to focus on.

If you are still confused on what to offer to your audience, I recommend that you begin by partnering with someone in your industry. Instead of signing up with an affiliate network, do some research on other influencers in your niche and see what products they have to offer.

Think of online courses you have taken, planners you have used, even books you have read, that have helped you and that you know your audience would benefit from. Again, you want to make sure that you have personally used it before you promote it on your website.

Starting with this list of influencers will help you to provide products that your audience will enjoy since they are in the same niche as you.  

Action step: Pick a relevant affiliate offer by partnering with someone in your industry.

Step 3 – Valuable content

The last step is to write a lengthy actionable post for your audience. This will allow you to show your readers how you use the affiliate product rather than just telling them to buy it.

It will also help you to position yourself as the expert, or the authority, on the topic. If you can provide a valuable review, tutorial, or how-to post, showing your audience exactly how and why you use the affiliate product, you will build up their trust and not come off as being salesy or spammy.

The important part is focusing on the value of the post first, not the affiliate link or the offer you are promoting.

I hear a lot of people complain that affiliate marketing doesn’t work for them, but it isn’t working because they only focus on the money they will make.

They forget about helping their audience or fulfilling their needs first. This should always be your number one priority. You can’t expect to make money from a post that isn’t providing some kind of value upfront.

Read more about the complete layout of how to write a blog post to increase your conversion rates here.

Once you have completed this process you need to spend time promoting the post. This can include:

Make sure you download a copy of my Affiliate Starter Guide

The 2019 Ultimate Pinterest Planner is Here!

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Today’s podcast is an exciting one because we are launching the 2019 Ultimate Pinterest Planner. If you’re new and haven’t heard about the Planner yet (or if you’ve put off checking it out), this episode will explain everything you need to know about why I created the Planner and how it can help you.

Printable 2019 Ultimate Pinterest Planner

What Is the 2019 Ultimate Pinterest Planner?

I first created the Ultimate Pinterest Planner back in 2015 as a way to help you keep up with Pinterest marketing throughout the year. I always get questions about what to pin each month, how to remember stats, what people are searching for, etc., so I created the Planner to answer all those questions.

You can download the 2019 Ultimate Pinterest Planner for free! I highly recommend going to a business supply store and getting it printed off in color and bound. The Planner is very colorful and has lots of places to keep track of your Pinterest marketing efforts.

When you sign up to receive the Planner, you also get access to the weekly SPM email newsletter. In the newsletter, we dig even deeper and make note of what trends are currently being highlighted by Pinterest. Having the Planner and the Wednesday email in hand will give you plenty of tools to help you target your audience on Pinterest, based on their keyword searches.

How to Use the Planner

Each month, the Planner is broken down into:

  • What to Pin – based on what’s trending and how to get ahead of the curve
  • What to Promote – what you should be promoting on Pinterest that month
  • Content Planning Ideas – my favorite part of the planner! This section will help you know what kind of content to create based on trends
  • Tip of the Month – unique and fun tactics to improve your Pinterest account
  • Action Item – how to move things forward without feeling overwhelmed

As business owners, we have so much on our to-do lists and that can be overwhelming. Tasks like updating blog posts are usually at the bottom of our to-do lists but continuing to update your content is so important!

Updating your content is one thing I’ll encourage you to do regularly in the action item section. I set aside an hour or two a month to work on updating posts.

The Planner also includes access to a free month of Tailwind, my favorite Pinterest scheduling tool.

The Planner also includes a section on Pinterest statistics that you should be tracking. It provides a place to track page views, followers, and save/repin rates (we track sessions here at SPM instead of page views but you can choose which metric makes the most sense for your business).

One thing we’ve noticed in our tracking is that as repins go down, sessions tend to go up. We don’t understand why just yet (my data analyst, Layne, who came on the podcast and talked about ROI is still investigating!). I tell you that to let you know that each type of metric should be viewed as a comprehensive picture.

If your follower count is down, maybe your repins are up. You have to look at all of your statistics to see what is really happening behind the scenes. 

I want your business to be an effective money-making machine for you. I know that when a business is growing and producing a healthy amount of money, that gives us the ability to meet other goals and dreams that we have.

When it comes to Pinterest metrics, remember that:

you can’t pay your mortgage in follower numbers. You need to look at metrics that translate to cash.

Look At Your Peaks and Valleys

As we go into December and January, I want you to look at the last one to two years of Google analytics data and examine the traffic peaks and valleys. Then use that information along with your Planner to figure out how you can best serve your audience. Make notes at the tops of the Planner pages detailing what you need to be doing when that particular month comes around.

Knowing when your site’s traffic peaks and valleys occur will help you to be prepared. Being prepared when those low times hit will help you utilize them well and motivate you to work on creating amazing content –instead of being anxious about where all your traffic went.

Pinterest planner sheets on table with red flower


On the final page of the Planner, I conclude with a congratulatory message for making it through to the end of the year. We designed the 2019 Ultimate Pinterest Planner to be super simple and straightforward. It’s very important for me to help you grow your business effectively without giving you a ton of crazy extra steps.

If you print off the planner and use it, I would love to see how you’ve put it into action! I invite you to use the hashtag #simplepinplanner on Instagram so that we can check out how you’re using the Planner. It helps me to teach our audience even more great ideas on how to use it to build their business.

I wold love to hear from you! If you have any feedback or anything specific you love about the podcast, send me an email.

I’m also open to ideas for future podcast episodes as well! If we love your idea, maybe we’ll even invite you to appear on a future episode! 🙂


Time Stamp:
00:53 – What Is the Ultimate Pinterest Planner?
 3:51 – Using Keywords Effectively
 5:46 – How to Use the Planner
 6:58 – What to Pin
 7:51 – What to Promote
 9:28 – Content Planning Ideas
 9:33 – Tip of the Month
10:01 – Action Item
12:10 – Pinterest Statistics
15:30 – Look At Your Peaks and Valleys
20:00 – #SimplePinPlanner

Learn more about monthly and seasonal trends by listening to these episodes:

Learn more about analytics by listening to these episodes:

The post The 2019 Ultimate Pinterest Planner is Here! appeared first on Simple Pin Media.

3 Reasons to Automate Your Pinterest Marketing (+ a New SPM Course!)

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Today we’re going to discuss why you should automate your Pinterest marketing. Everyone wants to be more efficient with their Pinterest marketing so that they have more time for content creation. I brought on Amanda, my former assistant here at SPM, who created the How To Master Tailwind course and another new course we will talk about a little later.

Amanda is a lifestyle blogger, who mainly focuses on DIY home decor. She grows her site, A Crafted Passion, while staying at home with her two little girls. Amanda is high follow-through on the Kolbe test, just like me.

Desk with laptop, coffee mug and flowers with text overlay "How to automate Pinterest"

This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase through these links, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.

Why You Should Automate Your Pinterest Marketing


1. Automation is a Time Saver

Automation is a time saver and for a perfectionist like Amanda. Automating her Pinterest has not only been a huge time saver but also a mental relief, because she knows she has a good system in place.

If you’ve never run a time audit on your week, give it a try. You’ll see exactly how much time automating your Pinterest could save you. Jessica Turner’s book, “Stretched Too Thin,” is what first introduced me to the idea of time auditing. When I first completed a time audit, I realized that I had plenty of time to get everything done. I just wasn’t utilizing my time well.

Amanda used RescueTime to help her know exactly where she was spending all of her time and how she could change that to help grow her business.

2. Automation Ensures That Your Content Gets Out

You put so much time and effort into creating our content and products.  You can’t just sit around and hope other people come along and pin it for us. YOU have to make sure you’re getting your content out there.

Whether your goals are sales, leads, or clients, you need to ensure that your site is getting traffic.

3. Automation Provides Consistency

Inconsistent pinning – not only does Pinterest not like it, but you’re not able to tell what is working and what isn’t. You have to be strategic with Pinterest marketing in order to see the results.

Pinterest wants you to be an active daily contributor on the platform. Don’t get hung up on on a specific number  of pins to share. Just focus on sharing your content consistently platform. Make sure you’re looking at your Google Analytics to find out which of your posts are getting the most traffic so that you can be utilizing those posts well. Focus more on your own content than on the posts of other people.

Keep in mind that you can’t totally forget about your Pinterest, even if it is automated. You have to be looking at your analytics to stay updated on what is happening with your site. You can’t take a “set it and forget it” type of mentality. If you do that, over time your traffic will decline.

When you set up your automation and forget it, you’re not taking the seasonality of Pinterest into account. You have to be thinking and pinning about an event 45 days before it takes place. If you are pinning about Valentine’s Day in October, Pinterest isn’t going to be showing you in the smart feed because your pins aren’t relevant to what is being searched for at the time.

Introducing Tailwind SmartLoop Simplified


We know that automating your Pinterest marketing is important to many of you who are trying to grow your business. Tailwind has created a new featured called SmartLoop to help Pinterest marketers take advantage of automation. Amanda has been using it for about a year and a half and she loves it.

SmartLoop allows you to save even more time and be even more strategic. Amanda is spending about an hour a week on Pinterest. SmartLoop makes it easy for you to reshare your best pins at the best time for maximum engagement. Best of all, this is a Pinterest-approved tool!

We’ve had so many people asking questions about SmartLoop, we decided that we had to create a course. You know that it’s very important to me to have simple courses with easy, actionable tips. Because SmartLoop overwhelms me, and I know it doesn’t overwhelm Amanda, I asked her to create a course on it.

The Tailwind SmartLoop Simplified course includes everything from the initial set up, to regular maintenance, to advanced loop options (and it’s Tailwind-approved!). The layout of the course is very similar to our How to Master Tailwind course. It contains 11 step-by-step lessons with videos that walk you through the ongoing strategy of automating your account.

The course also includes a workbook (Amanda loves a good workbook.) The course includes a dashboard that facilitates viewing your Google Analytics stats (if you’re not familiar with Google Analytics). We’ve made it all as simple as possible.

If you have SmartLoop and have been playing around with it but haven’t quite figured it out, this course would be perfect for you.

Is the Tailwind SmartLoop Simplified Course for you?

Yes! Tailwind SmartLoop Simplified is perfect for any business owner who is wanting to pin consistently, save time, and streamline their Pinterest strategy. If you feel like you have a solid strategy and aren’t having to cut things off your to-do list, then you may not need this. But if you feel at all overwhelmed OR you just love Tailwind, this is definitely for you.

Tailwind SmartLoop Simplified is perfect for everyone who doesn’t have a Pinterest manager and really wants to get efficient with Pinterest marketing. It’s not really necessary for those of you who already have hired Pinterest management companies, since we are constantly looking at your Google Analytics and pinning consistently for you.

Desk with laptop, coffee mug and flowers with text overlay "How to automate Pinterest"

It’s Launch Day!

The course launches today! Today (January 30th, 2019) through February 5, 2019, we are hosting a special promotion and special bundle options. You should first complete the How to Master Tailwind course if you haven’t already. That will really walk you through setting up your boards, analytics, and batch pinning. Amanda refers back to those lessons in the SmartLoop Simplified course.  

SmartLoop Simplified

It’s so important to us here at SPM that you are using your Pinterest marketing with a greater purpose. We want you to be getting leads and more buyers on your email lists. Pinterest marketing can grow your business if you are using it well.

We hope you check out Tailwind SmartLoop Simplified and that it answers all the questions you have!

Check out these podcasts for more great tips: 

Time Stamp:

  • 1:48 – A Crafted Passion
  • 5:51 – Automate Your Pinterest Marketing
  • 6:17 – It’s a Time Saver
  • 9:51 – Make Sure Your Content Gets Out
  • 10:23 – Consistency
  • 14:03 – Cautions With Automation
  • 17:40 – Smart Loop
  • 22:40 – Tailwind SmartLoop Simplified
  • 26:36 – Is SmartLoop for Me?
  • 29:56 – Launch Day!

The post 3 Reasons to Automate Your Pinterest Marketing (+ a New SPM Course!) appeared first on Simple Pin Media.

Best Practices For Your Pinterest Business Account with Kim Vij

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This episode of “The Manly Pinterest Tips Show” has something for anyone who is using, or is thinking of using, a business account on Pinterest.

Our special guest, Kim Vij, is no stranger to this platform. Kim joined way back when Pinterest was still private and found it to be a useful tool in directing traffic to her blog. She is now a Pinterest consultant, blogger, author, and speaker. Kim co-hosts a weekly Twitter chat and a Facebook community called “Pin Chat.”

As a “pin-fluencer” Kim has created award winning boards on Pinterest with an incredible 1.6 million followers. She is a teacher at heart and enjoys sharing ways to make everyday moments into teachable opportunities on her popular parenting site, “The Educator’s Spin on it.” She also has an upcoming book, “100 Fun and Easy Learning Games for Kids.”

Although the goal of Kim’s boards is to promote parenting and educational resources, what she has learned about business and Pinterest along the way can be applied in many different situations. For those who are new to the concept of Pinterest for business, Kim takes us through a sort of Pinterest 101, where she discusses the basics of setting up and managing a Pinterest business account. For those who have already mastered the basics, she goes deeper, giving tips on things like effective board and pin descriptions, using tools and analytics, and how to adapt to recent changes that affect board arrangements.

Kim emphasizes that many people use Pinterest as a search engine. Knowing how to capitalize on that is a valuable skill. The expertise she offers is a great tool in pointing anyone in the right direction.

Here’s a list of questions we discussed:

  • Tell your story – how you got involved in this thing called “Pinterest.” (1:23)
  • How long has your blog been going on? (3:08)
  • For somebody who’s just dipping their toes into Pinterest, why is Pinterest so important? (3:25)
  • Who uses Pinterest? Are they buyers or seekers? (5:39)
  • Let’s say I’m getting on Pinterest for the first time. What kind of options are there for when I first create an account? (7:12)
  • Explain what the difference is between a regular Pinterest account and a business account? (8:13)
  • What do you not get with a personal account that you do with a business account? (10:40)
  • Why is account bio so important? (12:06)
  • When should I change up or refresh my account bio? (14:38)
  • What are some best practices for board descriptions? (16:19)
  • You mentioned in your article to make sure you put in a board category. Is there any best practices for that, and can I go back and switch them later? (17:36)
  • Board arrangements: Can you talk a little bit about why people got upset about those Pinterest changes and what they did? (19:49)
  • Is it worth it to do custom board covers? (21:20)
  • Now on mobile your most recent boards are coming to the top. What does that do to your group board strategy? (22:57)
  • How many boards do you think it’s good to have to first start out? (24:58)
  • What are some of the best practices for writing compelling pin descriptions? (25:45)
  • Would you suggest a backdrop image with overlay text or a solid color background with text for blog post pins? (33:14)
  • How often should I pin? (33:56)
  • Are there tools to monitor analytics? (35:09)
  • Any news about promoted pins and buyable? When are they going to go global? (38:25)
  • Are most popular pins attached to an article? Do people pin based on a photo? (41:00)
  • Do you use any automation? (42:48)
  • What’s your take on combining business with personal on Pinterest? (43:18)
  • Where can we find out more about you and your services? (45:40

Thanks For Watching And Listening!

I really appreciate you joining me for this week’s episode.  Have questions or comments?  Leave a message in the comment section below!

If you’ve enjoyed the show, please share it using the buttons at the top or bottom of the page.

Also, please leave an honest review for The Manly Pinterest Tips Podcast on iTunes!  Ratings and reviews mean a ton to podcasters and I would really appreciate it.  They matter in how iTunes ranks the show and I honestly do read every one of them.

If you’d like to learn more about a certain topic or have something you’d like me to talk about during the show, feel free to contact me.

Thanks to Kim for being such a great guest.  See you for the next episode where we’ll be adding testosterone, one pin at a time!

The post Best Practices For Your Pinterest Business Account with Kim Vij appeared first on Manly Pinterest Tips.

7 Step Process to Create an Effective System in Your Biz

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Do you have any systems set up for your blog?

Could your business run without you?

A system is a set of processes, tasks or activities that can run without you. It is a documented procedure that plays a major role no matter what stage of business you are in.

Do you have any systems set up for your blog? Could your business run without you? Click here to check out my 7-step process to identify where you can implement a system in your business. Oftentimes, we are blinded by our daily routine to see what we should automate or can improve.

If you are new to systems, click here to check out some of the benefits of creating systems for your blog or business.

Today, I want to share my 7-step process to identify where you can implement a system in your business.

Oftentimes, we are blinded by our daily routine to see what we should automate or can improve.

Step #1 – Identify

The first step in this process is to identify where you can put a system in place. To get started I want you to think of the processes you do in your business on a daily, weekly or even monthly basis.

Take out a sheet of paper and jot down tasks or projects that you do often.

Once you have created your list, take a minute to answer the questions below. Think of your daily tasks or projects you complete often.

  • Is the task essential to your business?
  • Does it occur often or even daily?
  • Is it repeatable?
  • Can you delegate it?

If you answered YES to any of these then you need to put a system in place.

For example, you do the exact same process every week for your YouTube videos:

  • Researching
  • Outlining the content
  • Writing a script
  • Recording the video
  • Editing the video
  • Scheduling it to go live
  • Promoting the video

Creating a system for completing these tasks for each video will make it easier for you. Even if you aren’t delegating the work you still need to create a system for yourself so you aren’t recreating the process every time.

Here are a couple of examples of tasks you can identify that may need to have a system created:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Lead generation
  • Customer service
  • Writing content
  • Scheduling social media
  • Gaining new clients
  • Sales
  • Emails
  • New projects

You might find that certain tasks aren’t repeatable, or don’t reoccur often. That’s okay you don’t have to create a system for everything.

Step #2 – Focus on One

Now that you have identified that you need a system, step 2 is to focus on one process that you will create a system for.

For example, if you made a list of 8 processes that you can systemize in your business, I want you to only focus on one.

This will help you to go through each of the steps in my system.

Step #3 – Break It Down

Now, it is time to break down the task you chose in step 2. To do this, I want you to brain dump everything you do when completing that task to see if you need to create a system for it.

You may be surprised to see how many steps make-up a certain task in your business. Sometimes we don’t realize how many tasks we actually do until you have written it all down.

For example, maybe the task you chose is creating a new course in your business. When you do this brain dump, you may break it down to look like this:

  • Survey your audience
  • Do research
  • Brainstorm course title & tagline
  • Brain dump course content
  • Write course content outline
  • Create course graphics
  • Setup course modules & lessons
  • Write launch email sequence
  • Record/write content for course
  • Launch calendar

This list does not include every task that goes into creating a new course for your business. But, you will need to get as specific as possible.

You may even realize when doing this brain dump that many systems make up this task in your business. For example, there might be one system for how you edit course content and that system has its own set of sub-tasks.

The important part is writing out every action you need to complete that makes up this process.

Do you have any systems set up for your blog? Could your business run without you? Click here to check out my 7-step process to identify where you can implement a system in your business. Oftentimes, we are blinded by our daily routine to see what we should automate or can improve.

Step #4 – Is It Broken?

As you go through and write down every item that makes up your task I want you to start thinking about how you execute it right now.

  • Do you have an issue with the way you are doing it?
  • Do you get inconsistent results?
  • Do you get confused or frustrated when you are completing the task?

These are key indicators that a system needs put in place.

For example, if you want to create a system for writing new content for your website and your tasks included:

  • Research & brainstorm
  • Outline the post
  • Write the post
  • Edit the post
  • Create graphics
  • Schedule it to go live
  • Share on social media

As you go through this list you may realize that you have issues with the way your content is formatted.  This means you’ll want to have a specific system for how you do it.

Not only does this help to save time, but it will ensure that you get the desired result every single time.

This is especially true if you have team members and need them to complete tasks in your content process. Having a system will streamline the process and reduce any issues that may arise.

Step #5 – Let’s fix it!

Now it is time to fix the way you have been doing it to help you streamline and automate this task in your business.

To do this you need to start at the beginning.

Look at your list of tasks:

  • How should the process work?
  • Is there anything that you can eliminate?
  • What can you do before or after to make it better?

For example, you may need to rearrange some of the tasks on your list so that the process runs smoother. Or, you can even eliminate tasks that aren’t necessary.

One thing I like to do is draw out the process and put each step in the correct order. This lets me visualize the system so that I can duplicate the process every single time I complete it.

Step #6 – Test Run

It is time to do a test run of your system. Doing a trial run will help you to make sure you aren’t forgetting a step, or not documenting a step properly.

You can’t do this step unless you are completing the task. For example, if you are working on creating a system for your new videos for your YouTube channel you need to wait until you are actually doing a new video.

This will ensure that you are going through each step of the process. Doing this will allow you to see if any edits or changes are necessary to your system.

  • What changes can you make?
  • Is there a better way?
  • Did it work how you expected?

Step #7 – Track It

The last step in the process is to document your system so that you can create a standard operating procedure. This sounds a lot fancier than it is.

You do not need to overcomplicate this step. Find a program that you are comfortable using and document exactly how you did the task. You can use Google Docs, Asana, Microsoft Word, or even Trello.

The important part of this step is to make your system repeatable. An example of a repeatable system I have in place for my site, Frugal Fanatic, is for creating new content. I documented the process in Asana. Now when I write new content I can use my template and go through each task.

I can even assign certain tasks to this system to members of my team. Doing this keeps it organized, consistent and repeatable.

It’s time to take action and systemize your business. Go through my 7-step process to identify where you can put a system in place to be more effective with your time.

You may find that once you have your systems in place you have cut out hours of your week because you have streamlined and automated tasks.


A Marketer’s Guide to User-Generated Content – 10 Ideas for Getting More

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user-generated content best practices

I think it was Mark Twain who said that there are two types of photos in this world: those that are shared by consumers, and those that are shared by brands. (Definitely, Mark Twain.)

Of course, the first is what we’ve come to call user-generated content, or UGC. It all started with the advent and subsequent adoption of digital applications like Instagram, VSCO and Afterlight – tools that empower everyday consumers to design and distribute high-quality images. Today, UGC is considered to be a powerful source of marketing ammo for brands, in large part because of what these images achieve – brand affinity, engagement and even boosts in on-site awareness metrics like time spent browsing and pageviews. The kicker: There’s a whole lot of this content. According to video editing app Magisto, iOS and Android owners take an average of 150 new photos per month, which amounts to about five photos a day. On average, women take 47% more photos than men, and female iPhone users under the age of 25 take 250 photos every month.

Ask yourself this. Which are you more likely to respond positively to: a photo created by a brand you follow or one that is shared by a person you know and revere? There are many reasons why UGC has become as desirable as it is, but in the end, it’s about the ability to capture an unscripted moment. It’s about creativity, authenticity and perspective. It’s about relaying a deeply personal experience that simply can’t be objectively recreated by a brand.

Whether you’re a global retailer or a local business, you too can harness UGC to bolster your brand message, to connect with your customers, and to celebrate some of your most influential fans. Rally the masses by incorporating some of these actionable ideas into your own UGC strategy.

1. Audit existing fan photos.

Before you approach your CMO and propose an elaborate UGC strategy, do your homework. What type of content are your customers sharing organically? One only needs to perform a simple search on Instagram to answer this question. There are a couple of ways to go about this:

Search by location. Use Instagram’s geography tags to pull in images shared in one of your physical locations. This could be a brick-and-mortar retail store, a restaurant, a hotel and so on. For employee-generated content, run a search for your company’s HQ.

Search by hashtag. Start with your brand’s name, a campaign hashtag, or perhaps a popular product that’s top of mind. What’s most likely to create conversation?

hashtagged terms on Instagram

A quick search for “Curalate” on Instagram, for instance, produces more than 1,000 photos. These images have come to live on Instagram, yes, thanks to the diligence of our all-star Community Manager, but also because of the snapshots our spirited employees and brilliant clients choose to share. For an even deeper look, I might also search for “Curaladies” (a popular hashtag among the ladies of Curalate) and “Curalattes” (because at Curalate, that’s a thing too).

Bear in mind that consumers don’t always include branded hashtags and handles when sharing content on Instagram or another social site. In fact, Curalate recently examined a selection of Instagram images about brands that we work with, and found that 80% that include a brand’s location tag don’t actually mention the brand in the caption. In other words, don’t limit yourself to an analysis of hashtags. Give yourself options.

2. Identify consumer trends.

The culture of your core audience becomes evident when you look at all of your customers’ photos in aggregate. When analyzing the types of photos that your customers are sharing, consider the following:

  • Who is most likely to share content about your brand – moms, teens, millennials, fashion bloggers, animal lovers, DIYers?
  • What are they sharing photos of? Is a particular style, product, collection or department dominating the conversation?
  • Where are your customers when they share brand-oriented photos – in your stores, at the beach, on the run, with friends?
  • When are your customers more likely to share photos? (Think: seasons, holidays, events, etc.)
  • Why are they tagging your products? Consider what motivates your customers, from product launches to marketing campaigns.
  • How? Think technically here. Are they tagging your brand organically? Are they using your geo-tag? Is Instagram where UGC is most prevalent?

user-generated content trends

If you can answer some of the questions posed here, then you can develop a data-driven UGC strategy with confidence. A great example of this comes from French fashion house Longchamp. They recently launched a campaign to fuel excitement around their iconic Le Pliage purse – a product they realized their customers were already championing organically. “A lot of people all around the world have a version of it, and a big community of people and bloggers taking photos of themselves with it already exists,” said Massimo Piredda, Digital and Social Media Manager for the brand. “It was obvious for us to join our Le Pliage fans online.”

3. Adopt a selfless hashtag strategy.

hashtag marketing strategy

User-generated content isn’t just about you. It’s about them: your customers. It’s about how they use your products and relate to your brand. So, while your customers may be inclined to tag an image with #YourBrandName, it might also serve you well to create (and promote) a personal, actionable hashtag that brings the focus back to your fans. Forever 21 uses #FSxME. Similarly, Wet Seal has used #WSonMe and is currently promoting #WetSeal4Me. And specialty retailer Urban Outfitters utilizes two distinct hashtags: #UOONYOU for apparel and beauty, and #UOAROUNDYOU for their music and apartment categories. Each of these brands sees a consistent stream of user-generated content from their social fans.

4. Promote strong CTAs in key locations.

instagram ctas

Don’t expect your hashtag to catch fire overnight. To encourage your fans to use your hashtags when sharing branded photos, place strong calls-to-action in the places where your customers are most likely to engage with your content. On Instagram, this might be your bio, location tag, or within the photo caption itself. (You can check out Wet Seal and Forever 21’s Instagram profiles above for inspiration.) Other places in which a call for content can be valuable: on your website, across your social channels, within your blog and throughout your catalogs (both digital and print). For an example of this, take a page from Z Gallerie’s playbook. During their #PagesOfStyle campaign (which runs through July 2015), the home goods retailer reported a 24% increase in UGC after adding explicit CTAs to their social channels (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter), website and on the back cover of their in-home printed catalog.

5. Add signage in your stores.

saks fifth avenue social campaign

In addition to social and digital CTAs, consider how you can engage your customers at one of the most valuable points of the customer journey: in your physical stores. If you’re in the entertainment industry, why not add messaging around your venues or atop the tickets themselves? If you’re a retailer, you might display hashtags near the register, outside of dressing rooms, or near a photo-friendly installation. Saks Fifth Avenue, for instance, placed #SaksStyle decals throughout the women’s ready-to-wear and contemporary departments in all 39 of their stores to promote their Fashion Week campaign. The decals encouraged customers to share photos of their shopping experiences – and to elevate their status to that of a style icon.

6. Host an event.

Although UGC is an effective way to create awareness around products, it requires that brands place a ton of trust in their fans. What are your customers saying about your merchandise? Is the lighting flattering, or does it just fall flat? What if your competitors’ products are in the frame too? (After all, what are the odds that a user’s #OOTD is 100% made up of your goods?)

Consumers are far less tactical than brands. One way to scale your UGC strategy and control the environment is to host an event. In this way, you can set the scene to your liking – from the hashtag your customers use to the products they engage with. Keep the conversation going by sending your guests home with goodie bags that warrant Insta-fame.

7. Tap into influencers.

Social and digital influencers are viewed as leaders among their social circles, and for good reason. They typically boast large, active followings and beautiful photo feeds. An influencer who posts an image of a product doesn’t just drive awareness; their participation with your brand can inspire an entire community. Consumers who see these images are more likely to join the conversation by submitting snapshots too.

In a recent survey, 59% of marketers reported that they plan to increase their influencer budget in the coming year. But influencer marketing isn’t one-size-fits-all. When considering how to engage influencers, be mindful of the following:

  • Audience alignment. What demographic do they cater to, and what type of content excites their fans?
  • Digital presence. Make sure that the influencers you choose to work with are dedicated to the same channels that you are. In other words, don’t court a user with a massive Twitter following for an Instagram campaign.
  • Credibility. Just because an influencer has a good eye and a large following doesn’t mean they have clout within your target community. Understand where they are coming from, and ask yourself whether their background is campaign-appropriate.

8. Design a contest.

One of the amazing things about UGC is that, frequently, the behavior is organic. That’s the beauty of UGC. It represents the brand without bias, and that’s why it feels so authentic. One way to encourage this behavior is to analyze the kinds of images that are already surfacing about your brand, and to then launch a targeted contest that aligns with, and builds on, those preferences.

champagne chair contest

Design Within Reach did just that with their Champagne Chair Contest. Knowing that their customers are creative and hands-on, the brand invited fans to build miniature chairs out of champagne bottles (just the corks; no more than two), and to then submit photos of their unique designs. In addition to fueling UGC submissions, Design Within Reach delivered one million impressions throughout their campaign as well as a 238% lift in engagement with those images.

9.  Position UGC as social currency.

It’s simple: Consumers love incentives, from coupons to buy-one-get-one deals. Teens espsecially. A 2014 survey from Forest City Enterprises and research firm Alexander Babbage found that 13- to 17-year-olds are more price- than brand-conscious compared to the 18- to 24-year-old segment. To that end, user-generated content can be a great way to incentivize your customers to participate with your brand. Small offers such as discounts, free samples or the chance to do something unique and unexpected that relates to your brand can be used to drive participation.

Marc Jacobs, for instance, has twice opened pop-up locations in which the only form of currency accepted were social engagements, including UGC. Throughout the initiative, customers were encouraged to “buy” products by tweeting or uploading photos along with a branded hashtag. In a matter of days, the label collected thousands of Instagram images from loyalists engaging with branded goods – 4,300 from February 7th – 9th, 2014 alone.

10. Feature your customers’ photos on your website.

By incorporating user-generated photos into the ecommerce experience, brands are helping shoppers to draw connections between images and products, while simultaneously celebrating some of their most engaged fans. This is an excellent way to give customers the social recognition they both desire and deserve (we like to think of it as a virtual “high five”). Moreover, an on-site gallery of user images helps to attract new UGC too.

sigma beauty

Since integrating UGC onto their website using Curalate’s Fanreel solution, Sigma Beauty has seen nearly a 4x lift in on-site engagement. Today, the brand receives some 16K photo submissions per month from customers who either share a photo on Instagram (and tag that photo accordingly) or upload an image directly to Sigma’s site. “Fans want to be appreciated, and they want to be a part of your brand,” says Amber Mulle, Social Media Strategist for Sigma Beauty. “The more passionate your fans are, the more passionate they are about creating memorable photos.”

Final Thoughts

When it comes to UGC, it’s not just a question of who or what – it’s also how you use it. One of the biggest misconceptions is that UGC can only benefit social teams and digital platforms. That’s simply not the case. In reality, UGC can be a creative, cost-effective and rewarding way to enhance a variety of channels: your homepage, your product pages, your emails, microsites and so on. Your next move is to share what you’ve learned here, and to take action.


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Are You Stunting Your Business Growth

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You might think your business isn’t growing because you’re not attracting the right audience. Or, you might think it’s because you haven’t found the right collaborations.

Is the lack of systems in your business stunting your growth? Many people overlook systems in their business because it is the backend work or it is perceived as not an urgent task. When you don't have systems, you ARE your business. If you left for a month what would your business look like? Would it survive? Would it keep running?


But, have you ever thought that it could be your systems?

Many people overlook systems in their business because it is the backend work or it is perceived as not an urgent task.

When you don’t have systems, you ARE your business. This happens a lot in the online world.


What is a system?

A system is a set of processes, tasks, or actions that can run without you. It is a documented procedure which oftentimes is like an operations manual.

It is doing the same tasks over and over again the same way each time to get the desired result.

I am sure you’ve thought before, “If only I could clone myself!”

This is where a system comes into place.

Systems allow you to automate a specific part of your business, or even outsource it.

If you left for a month what would your business look like?

Would it survive?

Would it keep running?

Your business is built upon subsystems that you do every day that you may not even realize you are doing.

For example, writing content, replying to emails, taking on a new client. Even though each of these tasks is a small part of your business they all play a major role.

Struggling to get thru your to-do list every day? Its because you need to put systems in place in your business.

Systems play a key role in your business and are necessary to have no matter what stage you are in.

Here are some of the benefits of having systems in your business:

#1 Scalability – Systems give you the freedom to scale your business without having to trade more hours for dollars. You can scale your business without having to put in more work.

#2 Consistency – Having systems allows you to create consistency when it comes to tasks you complete every single day. This could be your onboarding process or even how you write your content.

#3 Save Time & Effort – When you create systems in your business you are ultimately saving time. You won’t have to figure out how to do a particular task because you have created a system that you can follow each time.

#4 Automate – It is crazy a number of tasks we can automate in our business, but hold back doing it. Trust me, I waited a long time because I always thought that I couldn’t automate anything. I can almost bet that right now there are things that you are manually doing that could be automated. For example, scheduling your social media content, or even your email marketing. Not only does automation help you save time, but it allows you to improve your business.

#5 Outsource – This is when you hire someone to do a task for you. It sounds simple, but it can be difficult to hand over work that you are used to doing in your business. The key is figuring out where you are wasting time on lower-end tasks and find a way to either outsource or stop doing it. Even outsourcing 1 task will free up your time so that you can focus on higher-end tasks in your business.

When you have systems in place you can save yourself the time of doing certain tasks that are now automated. Systems let you operate with more time and mental freedom.

You can use your time more effectively and productively.

What are some systems you can put in place in your business?

Is the lack of systems in your business stunting your growth? Many people overlook systems in their business because it is the backend work or it is perceived as not an urgent task. When you don't have systems, you ARE your business. If you left for a month what would your business look like? Would it survive? Would it keep running?

Content Creation – Writing new content is a lot of work but it is an essential part of your business. I can almost guarantee that you do the same tasks every single time you write new content. For example you:

  • Research & brainstorm
  • Outline the post
  • Write the post
  • Edit the post
  • Create graphics
  • Schedule it to go live
  • Share on social media

You get the point, right?

This is a repeatable process that you do over and over again. This is where a system would come into place.  Or, you could look at this list and begin to outsource some of the tasks to save yourself hours every single week.

Here are a couple more examples of where you could implement a system in your business:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Lead generation
  • Customer service
  • Writing content
  • Scheduling social media
  • Gaining new clients
  • Sales
  • Emails
  • New projects
  • Payroll
  • Hiring
  • Training

If you want your blog or business to succeed then you need to build a solid foundation with systems.

It’s time to stop working in your business and start working on your business. Having systems will allow you the freedom to grow and achieve your goals.

Daily Crunch: Pinterest files to go public

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The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 9am Pacific, you can subscribe here.

1. Pinterest files confidentially to go public

The business has confidentially submitted paperwork to the Securities and Exchange Commission for an initial public offering slated for later this year, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

Earlier reports indicated the company was planning to debut on the stock market in April. In late January, Pinterest took its first official step toward a 2019 IPO, hiring Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase as lead underwriters for its offering.

2. Google ends forced arbitration for employees

This is a direct response to a group of outspoken Google employees protesting the company’s arbitration practices. Forced arbitration ensures that workplace disputes are settled behind closed doors and without any right to an appeal, effectively preventing employees from suing companies.

3. Facebook will shut down its spyware VPN app Onavo

Facebook will end its unpaid market research programs and proactively take its Onavo VPN app off the Google Play store in the wake of backlash following TechCrunch’s investigation about Onavo code being used in a Facebook Research app that sucked up data about teens.

In this photo taken on February 6, 2019, Indian delivery men working with the food delivery apps Uber Eats and Swiggy wait to pick up an order outside a restaurant in Mumbai.

4. Uber is reportedly close to making a tactical exit from India’s food delivery industry

India’s Economic Times is reporting that Uber is in the final stages of a deal that would see Swiggy eat up Uber Eats in India in exchange for giving the U.S. ride-hailing firm a 10 percent share of its business.

5. Google’s ‘Digital Wellbeing’ features hit more devices, including Samsung Galaxy S10

Initially available exclusively to Pixel and Android One device owners, Digital Wellbeing’s feature set is now rolling out to Nokia 6 and Nokia 8 devices with Android Pie, as well as on the new Samsung Galaxy S10.

6. DoorDash raises $400M round, now valued at $7.1B

Recent data from Second Measure shows that DoorDash has overtaken Uber Eats in U.S. market share — for online food delivery, it now comes in second to Grubhub.

7. Venmo launches a ‘limited edition’ rainbow debit card for its payment app users

The new rainbow card will be offered until supplies last, Venmo says. And existing card holders can request this card as a replacement for their current card, if they choose.

Smart Instagram Scheduling with Tailwind

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smarter Instagram scheduling from Tailwind!
Wait, isn’t Tailwind all about Pinterest? True – it is THE Pinterest scheduling and analytics choice for many Pinterest pros (myself included), but at heart, Tailwind is all about visuals and the data behind the success of visuals – so venturing into Instagram was a logical next step. And now they’ve done it!

Please note: This article contains affiliate links, which means I may make a small commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase via a link. Also, since I first published this post on January 10, 2017, I have joined the Tailwind team!

A great big thank you to Melissa and David of Tailwind for 1. allowing me to beta test their new feature and, 2. letting me blog about it before they did! I’ve been a Tailwind for Pinterest user for ages and I would simply NOT be using Pinterest without it. The scheduling and reporting features cannot be beat. And don’t get me started on Tribes – it’s basically what I’ve wanted natively on Pinterest all along. I digress.

Naturally, when I heard that Tailwind was releasing a scheduler for Instagram, I had to get in on it. In fact, I pouted until Melissa used her great influence to get me invited. And really, I can’t blame them for not choosing me first. I am NOT a great Instagrammer. But I am a Tailwind Education Partner and that has its perks. 🙂

My problem on Instagram is that I am not active enough to have a business AND personal account, so it’s a bit mixed. I also work from a home office, so my daily work scenery doesn’t change much more than from “dog in the dog bed” to “cat on my chair” or the slightly more popular, “here’s where I ran today.” Lucky me I live in gorgeous Wilmington, North Carolina, but it’s still hardly glamorous stuff. Don’t believe me? Have a look. (pssst – it’s better now that I’ve been using the scheduler for almost three months!)

So, if Tailwind can help me be a better Instagrammer in the way it’s made me a better Pinner, I want in – now!!  And so far, it’s looking good. Now that I’ve been using it a few months, I’m completely sold and I’m thrilled that it is out of beta and available to all!

Start your free trial now!

How Tailwind Will Make You a Better Instagrammer

Smart Instagram Scheduling

There are programs that will tell you when is the best time to post based on your past activity. I’ve used one. It was helpful. Trouble is, I never remember when that time is. Also, it has no connection to the scheduler. This feature is the one Melissa Megginson, Marketing Manager and Cat Lady of Tailwind, was most excited about. She says, “My favorite feature is the smart schedule. It’s easy to see exactly when your post will go out and you can easily drag and drop the image to a different timeslot.”  Sweet. Check out my recommendations:

Note – this information is available on the Plus plan and higher – so you may not see it, but it is still informing your Smartschedule!

Looks like I post exactly 11 hours earlier than I should. D’oh! See, if I can queue up my posts in Tailwind instead of just posting on the fly all the time, I’ll be way ahead of the game.

That translates nicely into a suggested schedule for my posts – anything I queue up will go into the next available slot. No remember required. Cool. If I start posting more often, Tailwind will have more data to go on and my schedule will become even more helpful for increasing engagement. Must. Post. More. Often.


I haven’t yet posted my previous blog post on Instagram, so I’ll schedule that now. I don’t think the weekend is the best for that content, but when I queue it up, it goes to my next open slot, Saturday. NO PROBLEM! I just drag that image from Saturday to the spot on Monday. Done!

Save Time and Be Consistent!

We all know how important consistency is on social. Since I started using Tailwind’s Instagram scheduler, I’ve posted updates every weekday. A big change from my previous method of panic and skip! Not only is it a huge time saver in general, but I find having Instagram and Pinterest scheduling in the same place helps me get into that visual marketing mindset and batch my work a bit more.

Check out this video for more time-saving options:


A Browser Extension – It’s No-Excuses Easy

Let’s just go back a sec. to the actual scheduling. Oh my goodness – easy scheduling on desktop! Just like with scheduling pins, you can use a browser extension to schedule. It pulls up the image for you and all you have to do is  add a description. For people who blog on the fly and who can’t remember where they put that image (ahem!) being able to grab an image from the post is a huge time saver. My image format works well for cropping to square, which is helpful, too.

What about sharing other people’s blog images? Well, as long as you tag the creator and mention them in the update, I would think bloggers would love it! There is of course the possibility that this will be abused, but that can happen with any tool. Let’s just all promise to use it for good. 🙂

Hashtag Lists

I KNOW I’m not the only one who struggles with hashtags on Instagram. They tend to be an afterthought and feel like a bit of a chore. Yet, using the right hashtags is one of the best ways to get your content in front of a new audience who may follow you. They are even more important since Instagram allowed us to follow hashtags on Instagram.

So, I did some Instagram hashtag research for the topics I typically cover in my posts. Once. Created hashtag lists for each, plus a “list” which just lets me format my hashtags in my caption, and I’m done!

Here’s how to create a hashtag list in Tailwind:

Hashtag Suggestions

But sometimes you do want to mix it up a bit, and fresh hashtags are important if you want to keep expanding your audience. So, along with my hashtag lists, I’ll let Tailwind suggest some hashtags for me. When I first start creating a post, it shows me recent hashtags I’ve used, but as I start to enter new ones, it gives me new ideas. I’ll choose one or two niche (low volume, low competition) hashtags, but mostly I’ll choose “best” (a combination of decent volume and not too competitive).

Here’s how it works:


Automatic Posting to Instagram with Tailwind – No More Device Notifications!

While some people like the device notifications (“It helps me remember to go to Instagram to engage!”), I find that all too often, I have missed my posting reminders, which means that the optimal times to post often pass me by! Tailwind is one of a few official Instagram partners, so they can now post to your scheduled Instagram posts for you – no device required! This also opens up Tailwind for Instagram to android users. Yes!!

To use automatic posting for Instagram from Tailwind, you do need to have or convert to an Instagram business account. I have one anyway since I wanted the useful analytics. Anyway, if you do have business account for Instagram, when you signup for Instagram for Tailwind, you’ll be prompted by a big colorful bar (can’t miss it) to enable auto posting. It will then walk you through a simple process which takes about 60 seconds – and from then on, your scheduled posts will go out automatically!

Start your free trial now!

It’s important to know that this program is in beta for Instagram –  which means you’ll be able to schedule single image posts only. While you can @mention users and hashtags do function, you won’t be able to schedule stories, carousel posts, videos, or tag people or locations – yet. Hopefully as Instagram expands the test, those features will become available for auto post.

Another item that trips up some users is the limited image ratios Instagram allows with auto post. Squares are always a safe bet, but if you keep your ratio between 4:5-1:1.91 you’ll be safe. If you try to upload an image outside that range, Tailwind will let you know. I usually compose mine in Canva or Photoshop anyway, but if you are accustomed to cropping images as you post, this could be a little frustrating as images taken from your phone fall just outside those ratios. Rats! Still, this makes batch scheduling so easy, you can just drop them into Canva, crop, and go!

When auto post for Instagram was first announced, I heard some people say, “Big deal – I’ve been doing this for years with (insert questionable product here)!” The difference here is that Instagram is giving partner tools its blessing for auto post. So there is no need to fear losing your account or some kind of penalty which might impact your reach.

I LOVE this kind of set it and forget it posting, and find that if I want to post a story or video, it’s usually in the moment, not something I want to schedule. So, I’m a fan!!

Start auto posting to Instagram with Tailwind.

Insightful Reporting

If you use Tailwind for Pinterest reporting, you know how easy it is – and it’s comprehensive, too! The data for Instagram is just as good. I can easily see everything I’ve posted – whether from my phone or from Tailwind. It shows me the filters I use, too – which gives me a feel for which ones my audience seems to enjoy the most.

It’s also helpful to have a look at your profile performance.  I’ve always loved this feature for Pinterest – the engagement rate “speedometer.” Here it is in part:








Post Inspector allows me to see how well each post has done. I can filter by post type, filter, or date, number of likes, or comments. Here I’m looking at which got the most likes. From here I could schedule it to go out again or see and respond to comments, which is great for times when I want to engage, but don’t want to get sucked into just browsing Instagram on my phone!

Ready to try it, too? Start your free trial now!

Be a sport and pin me?


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