What tool/app/software could you not live without? 8 Mailchimp partners share their top tips.

Top online tools from Mailchimp partners

Here, 8 Mailchimp partners and email marketing experts share their top tips on what online tools they rely on each day. So much great advice here!

 

Slack. We’ve been using Slack since January 2016, but during COVID where the team is no longer in one central location, Slack is the backbone of our comms, both with the internal team and our external workforce. I can’t imagine how we’d manage without it.
Doug Dennison, CEO & Co-founder, MailNinja


 

I’m a fan of to-do-lists, so Todoist.com is my everyday tool. For every area of my life (not only work) I’ve defined separate projects, and every time I decide to do something I put it in my list, with a due date and a priority level.


I have a lot of recurring tasks: newsletters (each one with its checklist of things to do), recurring payments, various kinds of errands; this helps me to free my mind and be sure that I won’t forget anything.


At the end of the day I check what’s on my list for tomorrow, I may reschedule something if the list is too long, and I prepare for the day to come.
Alessandra Farabegoli, Digital Strategist, Co-Founder, Digital Update and Freelancecamp Italia


 

Is Adobe an answer? If I have to choose… Photoshop… no, Illustrator… Dreamweaver… 
Indesign! I cannot live without Indesign. I use it for all designs, templates and forms.
Nick Beuzekamp, CEO and Founder, Online Marketing Bonaire


 

Google Suite. Toon Blast comes a close second.
Glenn Edley, Director & Email Strategist, Spike


 

For overall productivity, Google Workspace (https://workspace.google.com/) is our most important tool for both email marketing and general campaign creation. The ability to work concurrently with other team members on live documents, as well as share information transparently with clients is absolutely essential to providing top quality work in a timely and efficient manner. Clients who are not familiar with live document use find the access, technology and process capability amazing, and we’ve converted many to utilizing online document creation tools for their own departments and companies.
MaryAnn Pfeiffer, Digital Marketing Strategist, 108 Degrees Digital Marketing


 

Timeular – Time tracking dice. https://timeular.com/ It makes tracking my work time fun. I’ve gotten more productive since I started using it. 

My bonus tool is Qbserve, an automatic time tracking tool for Macs.

I can categorize the websites and apps I use and know at a glance if my day was productive. It’s made me more mindful of my time.
Amy Hall, Email Marketing Strategist and Certified Mailchimp Partner, amyhall.biz


 

I’m a big fan of OptinMonster and use it to create dynamic forms to capture new subscribers. I’m also constantly moving data so I rely on Zapier to automate workflows. My favorite new tool is OneSignal, which provides web browser push notifications. Push notifications have been a great complement to email messaging.
Adam Q. Holden-Bache, Director of Email Marketing, Enventys Partners


 

Slack. This powerful messaging tool has been an absolute game-changer for our business. Our small team uses it to communicate all day, every day. We’d have a million more emails to sift through without it. It’s great to be able to shoot a quick question or note to someone as you’re working on a project. Couldn’t live without it.
Emily Ryan, Co-Founder and Email Strategist, Westfield Creative

 

For more on Mailchimp Partners or to contact one of these experts, see Mailchimp’s Experts Directory here

Mailchimp experts

6 Ways To Maximize Mailchimp To Get Results

6 Mailchimp customers

With so many features, how can you get the most from Mailchimp’s platform and tools? 

To answer this question, we asked six Mailchimp customers and experts for their best tips. Here’s what they had to say about maximizing Mailchimp to get results.

Take Advantage of the Campaign Analytics

Tapping into the analytics from a campaign on Mailchimp will better equip you for the next one and the many more after that. Using their analytics will help you have a solid idea of the success, including how many people it reached, how many opened it and how many people engaged with whatever you sent. By using these numbers, businesses can continue to improve their email campaigns and gain more and more engagement. 

Daniel Cheetham, Y Scouts

Research Mailchimp Packages

Research all their offers and choose the tools that are best suited for your needs and business. While it may be tempting to use all sorts of services, if you do not understand them or how to use them, they will be of no use to you and you will blow your budget.

Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional

Chat with Mailchimp’s Customer Service 

If at any point in your Mailchimp journey you get stuck and need help to see results, don’t be afraid to reach out to their Customer Service staff. These are people that work day in and day out with Mailchimp, knowing it much better than the average user. Go to them for anything and you are guaranteed to get your answer as well as better your Mailchimp skills during the process. A win-win! 

Kayla Centeno, Markitors

Set It and Forget It

In the spirit of efficiency, one of my favorite features of Mailchimp is the ability to automate your campaign. For example, you can set up triggers for when the initial intro email to your new customer should be sent or an email to be sent to a customer based on their website activity. Mailchimp’s “set it and forget it” approach truly provides you with the necessary tools and platform to provide timely and relevant information to your customers with ease.

Jennifer Leicht, Marketing and Small Business Consultant

Utilize Tags to Send Relevant Emails

My best Mailchimp tip to get the most from their platform is to use tags to send more relevant emails. For example, create a tag for email subscribers who have not opened your last 10 emails. Such subscribers are in danger of disengaging! You should talk to those disengaged subscribers differently. For example, offer a “welcome back” coupon exclusively for them. You can start the email with something like this “we noticed you haven’t opened our emails so we created a special offer just for you!”

Bruce Harpham, Technology Marketing Consultant

Back to Back Email Campaigns

On top of manual, one-off email campaigns, Mailchimp has the ability to set up back-to-back email campaigns—many paid users don’t make use of this feature. For instance, for new customers, you can set up weekly onboarding emails for the first month, to educate and inform this pool of users on your product/service. You can also set up a rule to only send out follow-up emails if a user had not previously opened the last campaign. This one—you don’t over email customers who are already actively using your service and may not enjoy the over-supplement of email-based content.

Hung Nguyen, Smallpdf

8 Black Friday Email Tips For Mailchimp Users

Black Friday Mailchimp

When you think of Black Friday, chances are you picture long lines, crowds and stores packed with people. This year, with many social distancing guidelines in place, Black Friday will most likely look a lot different! In order to engage with customers safely, many retailers will extend their sales on eCommerce platforms. But how can you inform your customers of this major change? We are glad you asked!

Email marketing is the most direct form of digital communication with your customers. For this reason, we recommend planning a full-scale campaign to capitalize on your Black Friday sale! We sat down with eight MailChimp experts and asked them for their best email tips to help you get started.


Save Emails for Black Friday 

Though it feels simple and maybe counter productive, don’t send Black Friday emails out until it is actually Black Friday. Leading up to the big day, you can create some buzz and excitement around the type of deals you will be dropping, but keep Thanksgiving a day of thanks. Schedule the emails to start being sent out at 5am the next day, but let Thanksgiving be a day without bombarding your customers with emails. Open rates are low on Holidays anyway. Be ready to drop your email campaign when it really matters! 

Kayla Centeno, Markitors 

Use Geographical Data

When trying to capitalize on Black Friday deals, use the geographical data that mailchimp provides. Mailchimp allows you to see the geographical area of your subscribers and then send emails to a certain group of people in a certain area. For users looking to capitalize on Black Friday, this is a great way to send subscribers deals for places that are near them. 

Daniel Cheetham, Y Scouts

Make Your Subject Lines Stand Out

Make your subject lines stand out. Customers will be getting hundreds of emails about Black Friday from all kinds of companies besides yours, so you need to be able to capture their attention before they send your email to the trash. Avoid using generic and overused subjects like “Black Friday Deals.” Is there a phrase you use that is specific to your business? Use that to stand out!

Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional

Track Purchase Data From Previous Campaigns

Users looking to capitalize using Mailchimp during Black Friday should use the feature that allows them to track purchases based on emails sent out. Using this feature and data from previous campaigns can better help you structure a campaign that will also get customers to purchase directly from the email you sent out. Knowing what has worked and failed in the past will assist you in creating an effective campaign on one of the busiest shopping days of the year. 

Peter Babichenko, Sahara Case 

Get Ready Early

Black Friday comes sooner than you may think and you wake up with no resources ready to be sent. Get ready with your copy, visual, value proposition, and schedule campaigns upfront. Plus, make sure you test it out – subject lines, emails and your value propositions- through small batches of ads.

Jakub Kliszczak, Channels

Follow Up Campaigns

Mailchimp makes it easy to follow up on an email campaign to those who did not open an email. For Black Friday, I recommend sending at least three emails: pre-Black Friday, on the day, and one for Cyber Monday—depending on the needs of your business. By segmenting and following up with those who did not open previous campaigns or have made a purchase, you can maximize the most engagement and revenue generation from these emails, without disrupting users who had already made a purchase.

Hung Nguyen, Smallpdf

Deep Clean Your Mailing List

Whether it’s Mailchimp, or another CRM like HubSpot, Constant Contact, Salesforce, etc. the biggest issue I see is businesses that struggle with sending specific information to customer categories. Who are your personas? What product is best, per persona? Where are they in your buying cycle? If it’s an existing customer, what items could complement their last purchase? When you have clean data combined with clear solutions, you can share email communications that connect to their challenges, create credibility so you creatively stand out and inspire prospects to accomplish their goals.

Mark Jamnik, Enjoy Life Daily

Keep it Simple

Consumers get hundreds of emails in the build up to Black Friday so it’s important to make things easy for them. You can do this by focusing on a sitewide offer, a specific product category, or a small handful of items.

Liam Quinn, Reach Interactive

9 Mailchimp Best Practices For Small Businesses

Small businesses often have a limited number of resources available to them compared to large corporations. With smaller marketing budgets, small businesses must learn how to utilize every tool available to them. Mailchimp is one of the tools that small businesses can take advantage of to help boost their email marketing strategies. 

But what are all the benefits of Mailchimp? 9 experts have shared their best practices when it comes to using Mailchimp for their businesses. 

Use One Master Audience

I’ve completed a lot of audits for Mailchimp users. The number one best practice I’d recommend is to have only one master list, or audience, in a Mailchimp account. Most accounts I see may have 2, 5, or even 25 audiences! Instead, form one audience and use tags and segments to organize and target your contacts.

Brett Farmiloe, Small Business SEO

Be Aware of Other Mailchimp Services

Small businesses should know about the variety of services Mailchimp offers besides automated messaging. Mailchimp offers website hosting services that could elevate a business’s online presence. Having a solid and visible presence on several online platforms increases your chances of converting impressions into sales – as long as you utilize them.

Carey Wilbur, Charter Capital

Include Your Business Owner’s Name

I always recommend putting your business owner’s name in the “sent from” field. For example: Anna from Caldwell Media Arts, is likely to have a higher open rate than Caldwell Media Arts on its own. This is a strategy that works well for many small businesses who already rely on that personal touch from their founder(s) as part of their brand capital.

Anna Caldwell, Caldwell Media Arts

Give Your Emails Purpose 

Make the most of automated emails. When inboxes become flooded, emails with no value are the first in the trash. Make your messages valuable by utilizing welcome emails for new subscribers that describe what you offer, birthday discounts for those who provide their birthday information and new product or service notifications. Don’t just send an email to send an email. Make sure each message you send has a distinct purpose with a clear call to action rather than several messages saying the same thing over and over again.

Denise Gredler, BestCompaniesAZ

Subscribe to Newsletters

Subscribe to newsletters or updates from brands that you respect and admire. When you get them, set up a filter or file them in a folder for later so when it’s time to create your own content, you’re not reinventing the wheel or starting from scratch. This is also a really great way to get new ideas from industry experts. If you’re a small business, follow your competitors with big money who have an entire department crafting their emails. Austin Kleon wrote a great book on this theory called “Steal Like an Artist” – the secret is to do good work and make it your own. Even the greatest artists had inspiration in one form or another.

Sydney Miller, Tech Talent South

Utilize Templates 

Small businesses looking to shave some time off of emailing should utilize Mailchimp’s existing templates. Sometimes professionals will advise against it because there are some customization restrictions, but when you are first starting out, it is a lifesaver! The website features over 100 choices for emails and newsletters and it helps save the time and effort it would take to create/ code your own templates. 

Megan Chiamos, 365 Cannabis

Separate Audiences into Groups

If you have large email lists, segregate your audience in groups that make sense for your business. Not every subscriber will be interested in every piece of content you share. By tailoring campaigns by subject matter, geographic location and other preferences, you’ll reduce the amount of people that unsubscribe and increase open and click rates. It takes more time, but each campaign you send will have much higher engagement rates.

Colton De Vos, Resolute TS

Prune Your Email List 

One Mailchimp best practice that small businesses should know about is regularly pruning your email lists. If people don’t engage with or even open your emails, there’s no reason for them to be there. Not only are you paying for them to stay on your list, but their inactivity could negatively impact your deliverability with people who want to receive your emails. My rule of thumb is to automatically delete anyone who hasn’t opened my last twenty emails.

James Pollard, The Advisor Coach LLC

Tag All Your Contacts 

Tag your contacts! All of them. Find categories of content you like sharing, and then bucket those out among your tags. No one needs to receive all of your content, and breaking it up this way ensures you get the right message to the right folks. Contacts can have multiple tags too – embrace tagging!

Hana Ruzsa Alanis, Graphic Designer & Marketing Specialist

8 Ways To Save On Storage Setup For Media Production

No one likes paying storage fees. 

However, professionals in marketing and media production know all too well that storage fees for video, photos and data are expenses they have to live with. Without storage, their jobs can’t be done. 

So what’s the best way to find storage on a shoestring budget? How can media production companies save on cost when planning a storage setup plan? 

We asked eight media production, marketing, and data storage companies for their insights. Here’s what they had to offer to help keep expenses low, and the gigabytes high. 


Invest in LTO Tape

If production needs lots of storage at the least possible cost there is basically only one choice, LTO tape. When capturing at high resolutions, files can be gigantic. Keeping them and a backup copy during the complete production cycle might not even be possible. Here, an ingest archive might be the best solution at the lowest cost per TB and with the maximum security the medium offers. Ingest all files are archived immediately to LTO tape. All editing is done on proxies. The final conform is done with only the files actually used in the edit and restored from LTO tape. Scaling with such a tape-based archive is extremely easy and only needs to purchase additional tapes. The price point of tapes starts at about 10USD per TB. The investment pays off in two ways: financially saving constant investment in disk storage and security because LTO tape is the most secure and durable professional storage medium available with 30 years of shelf life.

Dr. Marc M. Batschkus, Archiware


Annual Agreements

Sign an annual agreement with a storage company to get their best rate. Annual agreements will typically waive set up fees and offer a percentage discount for agreeing to 12 months of service. If you know you’ll be using the service for an extended period of time, agree to longer terms to drive down rates. 

Eric Blumenthal, The Print Authority


Just Ask

Most things in life are negotiable. Setup fees are no different. If a storage setup fee exists, first take the time to understand why the setup fee exists. Listen carefully to the answer. If the rep gives the slightest indication that they don’t believe in the setup fee either, just ask if the fee can be waived. There’s no harm in asking, and by first learning why the fee exists, you have more validity behind your request. 

Carey Wilbur, Equipment Financing Company


Be a Beta Customer

Sometimes startups need beta customers to help work out the kinks in a storage solution. If you are able to sync up with a storage startup, offer to be a beta customer. In return for low or no storage fees, offer your insights to drive value to the startup. This way, your relationship turns into a mutually beneficial partnership instead of a transactional one.

Francesca Yardley, Threads


Cyber Monday Deals

Yes, Cyber Monday only comes around once a year. But when it does, storage companies will sometimes offer an incredible deal on a monthly or annual basis. I once took advantage of a Cyber Monday deal to get 65% off a service we wanted to use. We’ve been paying that same grandfathered rate ever since. Take advantage of a deal, renew, and save costs on storage services you need.

Brett Farmiloe, Tech SEO Agency


Cloud Storage

You can save storage costs while on a shoestring budget by opting for cloud storage. Take AWS S3, for instance. The S3 standard tier, which is ideal for data that you will access frequently, costs $0.023 per GB. When you need to archive large media files that you are no longer accessing regularly, you can use S3 Glacier, which costs $0.004 per GB. Note that these prices are comparable across any cloud provider you choose.

Reuben Yonatan, GetVoIP


Solid State Drives

Creatives should consider solid state drive (SSD) caching as an alternative to high-speed solid state drives when building storage on a budget. SSD caching pairs one or more solid state drives with a large array of spinning hard drives. Frequently accessed data is loaded to the SSDs automatically, for blazing fast access. Since hard drives are available in larger capacities and at a cheaper cost per gigabyte, these arrays experience the best of both worlds – the speed of SSDs, with the capacity and affordability of hard drives, often 40% or less of the cost of SSDs.

Joseph Stornelli, JS Technology Group


Dropbox

Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage in its basic plan and makes collaborating on shared documents simple and effective. Dropbox integrates with Office and Google Docs. If you share your files, other people can collaborate on these documents in real time and any changes you make as a team will save directly to your Dropbox account, making team collaboration a breeze. 

Jim Costa, Producer and Director


8 B2B Instagram Marketing Tips & Best Practices

B2B Instagram Marketing Tips

Instagram has always been a place for brands to shine–interacting with customers and creating a feed akin to an art show. But what about B2B businesses looking to enter the game?

How should a B2B business use Instagram? 

We asked eight B2B leaders, “What Instagram tip would you have to offer other B2B businesses?”

Here’s what they had to say:


It’s All About Insights

For us, Instagram is a place to share insights and wisdom. Our work is about people and we want to put people first through the content we share. As a result, much of our content is motivational and inspirational. Connect your business, whatever you offer, to something personal and that will offer something valuable to your audience. 

Jenn Christie, Y Scouts


Share Your Brand Personality

We use Instagram as a way to share our brand’s personality beyond our site while still promoting our business. Instagram allows us to connect to our audience in a way that’s more personable. We share our sales and products, of course, but we also engage with our followers by asking questions and including them in the content. Create a brand personality and use that to guide your content.

Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional


Network

We have a podcast (CEOpodcasts.com) so we use it very much as a way to connect with podcast guests and generate content. The reality is that most businesses are looking for visibility so we try to provide that opportunity with our platform. By doing that, it opens up the opportunity to develop, nurture, and cultivate relationships. Simply by sending a direct message to a potential podcast guest can open up a tremendous amount of opportunities.

Gresham Harkless, Blue 16 Media


Promote Brand Identity and Culture

We use Instagram for culture posts. Our audience doesn’t consume content or convert on Instagram so we’ve switched from trying to promote on there to showcasing a more human side of us and highlighting our great brand!

Janelle Amos, Revenue Marketing Manager


Be Consistent

We use Instagram to promote our mission, programs, and fundraisers. The best practice we strive for is consistency. What I have learned about social media engagement is it is all about consistency. It is also important that you create polished and eye-catching content for social media since it is driven by picture content.

Lloyd Hopkins, Million Dollar Teacher Project


Start Your Narrative

You are not the hero of the story. This comes from Storybrand by Donald Miller and it is more applicable than ever. To be effective on Instagram, start your narrative where the user is and not what you want them to see. Provide value by helping them navigate the problem they are currently having.

Lukas Ruebbelke, BrieBug


It’s OK if it Isn’t Right For You

First, determine what business objective(s) you want to achieve from Instagram (and social media as a whole). Instagram isn’t for everyone, and if your efforts on the platform aren’t organic or authentic, it could actually damage your brand reputation with your followers. If you do create a presence on Instagram, commit to conceptualizing the type of visual content that will tell your brand’s story in a compelling way.

Rennie Leon, Director of Marketing and Communications


Feature Behind the Scenes

Instagram is our favorite tool for letting our brilliant team shine. Since we’re a digital marketing company for small businesses, it’s important for us to have a medium where our clients can learn more about the awesome people they’re working with. Through our efforts, we aim to show that we connect small businesses with customers and have a great time doing it. Since Instagram is a casual social media platform, I recommend using this channel to feature the people working behind the scenes. Show people what your business is all about, but don’t forget to highlight those who make things happen! 

Grecia Olachea, Markitors

9 Tips for Awesome Cyber Monday Emails

Mailchimp Email Marketing Cyber Monday DID YOU KNOW that Cyber Monday was the biggest online sales day of the year in 2018? In case ya didn’t know, this is probably the busiest week of the year for us email marketers, so I thought I’d give you a few important Cyber Monday email tips here. And also – I just love this photo.

1. Send your Cyber Monday email when others AREN’T. Don’t follow the crowd. Send the day before or even the day after. Or send it today! I’m sure you’ve already seen quite a few Black Friday emails. You should also use Mailchimp’s “send time optimization” tool to determine the best send time for your particular Audience. ⁣

2. Urgency. Make sure you explain when the deal will end so people feel a sense of urgency to buy that day. ⁣

3. Don’t hesitate to send it late at night. One study I read shows 11pm had a high click rate (I know I shop online late at night…🤔)⁣

4. Keep it short and sweet. Your email should include your deal, a big image of your product, coupon code and a button to buy it. Remove any extra fluff. ⁣

5. Use GIFs or moving images in your email to keep it fun and interesting. ⁣Check out this gorgeous email from Kidly.

6. Keep subject lines short (under 30 characters) and use emojis. Think fun and light. ⁣

7. Make sure you have an Abandoned Cart email setup and ready. ⁣This is a huge opportunity to increase your sales.

8. Use all channels. Consider creating a Facebook Ad or a landing page for your Cyber Monday deal. Promote on social. This will make you way more competitive. ⁣

9. Send your email a second time! Consider sending an “EXTENDED” email after Cyber Monday saying the sale has been extended. ⁣

Happy Online Shopping Season! I’ll be over here getting our client’s emails ready and tested.

(Photo via @fashionsfromhistory on Instagram)

8 Reasons Why Working For A NYC Startup Was My Best Career Move

After deciding I could no longer spend my life auditioning for Broadway shows and waiting tables (let’s face it — I was burned out from singing 16 bars), I then spent many years working 9-6pm “assistant” jobs in NYC. I worked for a hedge fund, I worked as a nanny (another fave job), I worked as a personal assistant, an executive assistant, admin assistant in financial services and I’m sure a few other assistant jobs in there. But what prepared me MOST for owning my own virtual “assistant” business was the one job where I was NOT an assistant. It was my final NYC job as Program Coordinator for a busy, NYC startup non-profit where I worked for nearly 4 years.

I realized recently that working for a startup was the best training ground for creating the business of my dreams. The startup environment is so unique and also hard/exhausting, but so rewarding.

If you’re looking to learn a ton and you’re just starting out– look for a GREAT startup to work for. You’ll learn a lot.

And here’s why:

  1. I wore 15 hats. No really – 15. Ok, maybe 6 (but it felt like 15 some days). I spent my mornings working in logistics/international shipping and then afternoons doing an email campaign/tweeting, entering invoices into QuickBooks, booking international travel, helping to design a new office space, assisting our accountant with our annual audit, booking hotels in remote parts of Africa and more. Endless. When you work for a startup, you get the chance to take on many things. This was such an incredible training ground for a future small business owner.
  2. Freedom. I was given the freedom to try things in my work. I think this should maybe be #1 here. For many years as an assistant working in financial offices, it was the opposite. No freedom. No say. A very “Mad Men”-ish, secretarial existence (which killed me softly inside for years). In a startup, many times, you’re given a lot of freedom in your work to try things. No one ever breathed down my back to make sure I was completing a task. Therefore, I worked harder. I was happier. I wanted to be there making an impact every day. A sense of “freedom” in the workplace makes the difference between a job and a great job.
  3. Small teams. At this startup, I worked on a small, amazing team. Working closely with just a few people (who also each wore 15 hats) taught me so much about working closely with a colleague. Most of my work now is one-on-one with a client or solo-entrepreneur. It’s so important to learn how to communicate well (and fast) with your colleagues and working in a startup was great prep.
  4. Fast-paced. In a startup (or a great startup at least), you’ll learn quickly the meaning of “fast-paced.” I’ve always worked pretty fast, but when you have 4 people running an entire company with many things happening, you learn to work as fast (and diligent) as possible. Learning to work in a fast-paced environment is so, so important if you want to run your own business. It’s a must. I’m still trying to get on “Tahoe Time” here…
  5. Great People. I had incredible managers who asked me on a monthly basis – “what do you want to do, Emily?” — “what do you want to focus on?” — “How can we help you develop this?” A great startup usually has a rigorous hiring process because they want the brightest people on their small team to grow their business from the ground — up. I was very lucky to have worked with smart, smart people who taught me to so much and cared enough about me to help develop my natural work talents.
  6. Risk-taking was OK. I worked for a CEO and manager who took risks (see my “testimonials” page). Calculated, smart risks…but risks. We tried things a lot — some worked and some didn’t. Most did — not gonna lie. But — this sense of “the worst thing you could do is NOT try” really stuck with me. In this past year, I have said yes to some potential clients who I did not think I could take on (or was scared to) and it’s turned out wonderful.
    facebook office
    Funny enough- this image was taken on a visit to the NYC Facebook office for an event on women in business, which I was encouraged to go to from my manager.
  7. Flexibility in the workplace. What literally led me here was that I was given flexibility with my job. We had a generous maternity leave policy and the option to “ease” back into work after maternity leave (working from home on Fridays for a few months before coming back 5 days a week), which was SO incredibly helpful for me. These things really make a massive difference and most big corporations don’t have such flexible policies. I was also given the flexibility in the office to work wherever – rarely at my desk. At the office kitchen counter. In the small phone rooms. On the couch. The startup environment is awesome in this way — allowing employees to get up and move freely, which in turn makes them more productive and never bored. I am a firm believer that you could and should work where you’re most comfortable. For me, it’s at home by myself. For some, it’s in a bustling office. But it should be wherever you work the best.
  8. Modern business systems/ideas. Most startups are just that – starting up. And to do this, the business owner/CEO/Founder wants to make their employees happy. Many startups have a lot of fun perks and benefits (we didn’t have a ping pong table, but we did have a sweet espresso machine and some awesome views). They also use a lot of modern systems to run their business. Because of this, I learned so much about working “in the cloud” and running a paperless/electronic business. I think so much of my work now involves systems for entrepreneurs (and systems that I learned there), so learning these programs was huge.

Lately, I think a lot about — how did I get here after just starting this business a year ago? I think a lot of it is because I worked for a fast-paced, NYC startup that gave me the freedom to thrive and focus on what I loved working on. Instead of being pushed down in a cubicle, I was built-up daily and given the reigns to try things and take risks (something I had never had before). I owe so much to the time I spent there. I would not have been able to move here to Tahoe, to work from home and to live out this little business dream of mine.

So yes…working at a startup…a great idea.

Why You Must Backup your Mailchimp Lists – Now.

Emily Ryan

Quick tip for you if you use any online service provider.

As you probably noticed this week, Instagram and Facebook both went down for nearly a full 24 hours. With this comes a very important reminder…

You MUST back up all of your Mailchimp contact lists (or whatever email platform you use).

I want you to make sure you have downloaded a .csv file of your EVERY list you have in Mailchimp. If your email program were to ever go down, you just don’t want to risk losing that data. These are YOUR subscribers.

In Mailchimp, you simply go to your List and then Export (and download). Just keep these .csv files somewhere safe. More instructions here.

This also goes for other services. Anywhere you can, you want to be exporting any important data. This means taking a monthly backup of your WordPress website, downloading your accounting files from your invoice program, etc. Everything should periodically be backed up.

Set a calendar reminder each month to BACK IT UP. In fact, our favorite WordPress back up plugin is called WPBackItUp. Highly recommend.

That’s it. Back it up. We now have witnessed that online apps can go down!

Contact us if you ever need quick help doing this.

Stay Relevant Newsletter | Feb 8

Here is my most recent issue of the Stay Relevant Newsletter, which you can get in you Inbox weekly, by clicking here.

Before I share some important links from this past week, one important fact I wanted to share, in regards to your email campaigns. Did you know the AVERAGE open rate across ALL industries is only 22.87%? Yes, siree! So don’t fret if 77.13% of your people aren’t opening your emails. It’s those 22.87% that matter. And they matter big time. Just wanted you to know that…

Also, I have a lot of links this week, but I promise they’re all worth reading. 

Things I loved from this past week online:
Instagram adds a “donation sticker” for Instagram Stories.

Here are the absolute best days/times to send an email campaign. 

Facebook is planning to merge their Messenger with WhatsAppand Instagram messenger. 

The Chief of Stores for Apple is leaving the company after 5 years.

If you’re a mom and on Instagram, you’ll probably agree with this.

This app turns complete strangers into Instagram boyfriends. 

Do you use GSuite for your business email? Pricing going up slightly on April 2nd.

Here’s a great update on the latest news on all things Google

Here’s my go-to link for adding/downloading social media icons to put in your email signature.

Feel Good Link: I believe in only following accounts that bring you joy or useful information. Here are 20 of the funniest Instagram accounts if you’re feeling down. 

Why the name “Westfield Creative”?

In 2016, I had just relocated from NYC to Lake Tahoe and was trying to find a way to work from home, so that I could be around my then 6-month-old little boy. I have never been an office person and never will be. I had to find a way. In early 2016, after a call with my friend, Val Geisler (now an email marketing guru/expert), I started my virtual assistant business, “Emily Ryan Works,” which was helping entrepreneurs and small business owners with really anything they needed. From WordPress website help, to Mailchimp email newsletters, to graphics, to social media and much more.  They thought of something, we did it. It was really my dream at the time…just to be working from home.

 

Elizabeth Bogh and Emily RyanThen, this little business grew very quickly. And maybe too quickly. I kept taking on more and more clients and in 2017, my sister, Elizabeth, came on to help me manage it all. We grew to a full-time digital marketing agency, specializing in Mailchimp, social media and WordPress. As our business grew, we desperately wanted a new name. I hated the name “Emily Ryan Works.” It was a name that I quickly chose because www.emilyryan.com was NOT available on that day in 2016 and this was the only domain name I could find. And over time, as my sister took on 50% of our workload, I hated standing behind just my name. She never minded and actually preferred it that way (she always says that I should be the “face” of the business, but it feel right). So we began the search for a new biz name.

 

And it took FOREVER to come up with something that made sense for our business, for both of us and where the domain was actually available (harder than you think!). I think we went through 100 names. It had to be special for us. It had to be cool.

 

And then one day, we landed on a name that made so much sense to us both — Westfield Creative. Westfield (Road) being the street that we grew up on together in Charlotte, NC.  Liz and I lived at 3000 Westfield Road for 18 years (14 of those together) and it was truly a magical home to grow up in.

 

We grew up in an old, big blue house, covered in ivy. We could both tell you every corner of that house. We had a pool and a trampoline and our yard was a giant playground of awesomeness. We also had computers in several rooms of our house (which in the 80’s was pretty techie). Elizabeth actually went to a magnet school for science and technology (she was the real techie in our family) and I went to a performing arts school (I was the crazy, artsy theatre kid).

 

Westfield was our home and now with our new business name, it can be forever.

My Typical Work Day: Broken Down

I’ve always loved blog posts where people lay out their “real” day-in-the-life schedule. I get a kick out of seeing how people spend their time. And when they’re really honest about it. Working from home has always been a dream of mine and it’s a lifestyle that is all new to me and comes with its own set of challenges. Sometimes I think it’s actually harder than going into a real office. And with a toddler at home, even more so. So it’s been interesting figuring out how to schedule my time.

See – this working-from-home-while-the-baby-is-home-thing is hard. Even with a great babysitter. There is no break. Ever. Your breaks are your time to work. I work during naptime. I work at night. But this is what I choose to do and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have the afternoons with my child and I can run to the store if I have to. Or to Starbucks. To me, it’s the way working should be.

So I’m breaking down my “typical” work day for you (and let’s face it, nothing is ever “typical”) and really I’m doing this for myself to see it all on electronic paper:

6am-7:30AM: Sometime between these hours, my little guy wakes up. I pray for 7:30am, but some days it’s 6:01am. And some days it’s 8am! I always try really hard to get him back to sleep, but he usually disagrees. I unfortunately check my email upon waking. I know, I know. Most of my clients are on the East Coast, so they’re already hard at work and I like to make sure nothing crazy has happened. I try not to start work until 8am though even though I know it’s already halfway through the morning on EST.

7am-7:30: I start the coffee and this is our special breakfast time together before the madness begins. I make blueberry pancakes or eggs. Or toast. We eat lots of toast. But one of the most wonderful things I’ve loved about working from home is that I can make a big, fun breakfast for my little guy each day. I love this time so much before the madness begins. FullSizeRender

8:00am: Babysitter arrives. Big Yay! Mama goes downstairs (long commute, y’all!) to her office and shuts the door. I turn on Spotify and get to work. I try to have “normal” clothes on when I go down to work, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say I was in sweatpants/leggings/workout clothes most days.

8am-11am: Work.

Babysitter plays with my son upstairs and I work in my office. These three hours are my most productive of the day. I bust out as much as possible, make my calls, update Asana, handle client requests, etc. It’s all client work during this time and I try to be as efficient as possible with these morning hours.

11am-11:30am – Break! I come upstairs (mama is back from work!) and I spend the next 30 mins or so playing with my child and making a quick smoothie or a quick snack before his nap. Babysitter leaves. Sigh…. (I feel so grateful that I get to be home with him – even though I’m working. It’s everything to me. Not easy and always hectic, but wouldn’t trade it.)

11:30am-2:00pm– Admin work + lunch + a few social media posts (for work)

The little guy goes down for his nap and I quickly get back to work. This is my 2nd slot of sacred, work hours. I call it 2.5 hours but it can range from 1 hour – 3 hours. I pray for 3 hours. It’s tough to depend on “nap time” for work, but this is just the way it is for now. I make myself a quick lunch. Maybe run the dishwasher. A load of laundry and do a little admin work (invoicing clients, tracking expenses, leads and emailing). I usually find myself working on bigger projects at night or in the morning. The mid-day work is all administrative, with some social media/FB Groups thrown in (we gotta do it!).

It’s also my most stressful time of the day b/c I am trying to accomplish as much as humanly possible during his nap — coupled with feeling like the home has to be somewhat taken care of/cleaned since I am technically here all day…

2pm-5:00pm– Play! Usually around 2pm or so (or when he wakes up), I finish working. This is the best thing about working from home with my own business — it’s on my schedule. I choose my schedule (I still can’t believe I’m able to say that). I still work 8 hours a day but it’s split into hours that make sense for my life. This makes me way more productive and happier. I get ultimate family time each day with my favorite little person and I get to work and make a living. We usually have lunch together, do some errands, go for a run or hike, go to the beach/lake or go down the hill to Target or Trader Joe’s. (This is kind of my chunk of time to pretend I am a stay at home mom and I love pretending!) I used to worry so much about running out to do an errand between 9am-5pm but now that I work for myself, I am able to do that without guilt and that’s awesome, right?

5pm-6pm – Dad is home and we all hang and make dinner. We love when Dad comes home.

6:30-7:30pm – Bedtime routine is in full force. (We’re talking bathtime, reading lots of books, pajamas, diapers, nursing. It’s no joke!) It’s then goodnight to my sweet child.** (**Sometimes I am so tired that I fall asleep putting him to sleep. That is not good for the biz and I try to not let this happen. But it happens sometimes.)

7:30pm-10pm – MORE WORK while hanging with husband

As hard as it can be, I often have to work at night. Luckily my husband is understanding (he likes that I’m working to make $$!) but it’s hard on a marriage sometimes. We do spend time together and have some (or a lot on some days) wine/beer while I’m plugging away on the laptop. I decided it’s one of the trade-offs to working from home with a baby. If it means I get to spend those afternoon hours with him, then I’ll work every night if I have to. I also tell myself that it’s only temporary that I’ll have to work late. Someday he will be in school and I’ll have the whole day to myself. For now, this is how I work though.

10:30pm – Fall asleep very quickly. (Although tonight, it’s 10:45pm and I’m writing this blog…)

This is my typical day lately. What’s your schedule like? I’d love to hear! Comment below.