Side Hustle Goals

The Easiest Getting Started Guide To Entrepreneurship (even if you don't have a business idea yet!)

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entrepreneurship getting started guide

You can't scroll through Facebook without seeing yet another entrepreneur peddling their sure-fire way to make millions on the internet...

...  in just a few short months.

... without spending any money.

... without building an email list.

... without any experience.

The list of unlikely events goes on.

In a world of hyper growth and an increasing need to tell the world about our wins, it's easy to believe that everyone has it all together except you.

"These online entrepreneurs can make entrepreneurship look much more glamorous than it actually is," says Eva Janotta of Simply Put Strategies.

One day, Eva found herself the proud recipient of a pink slip. (Not really, she just lost her job.) Rather than finding a new job, she decided that she would go out on her own, break the mold and build a business. 

I bet we've all thought about that at one point or another, but Eva decided to go for it!

In our #SideHustleGoals video series, Eva shares exactly how she did it - from start to finish. 


What Should You Consider Before Becoming An Entrepreneur? 

Your Current Lifestyle

Eva credits her willingness to jump into entrepreneurship head first in part to her life stage. She was young, bright-eyed and busy tailed and ready to take on the world.

Being young offers more than a playful innocence. You also have the best of both worlds - a youthful outlook on the world and flexibility in your habits. In many cases, you'll also have no family to support. (Entrepreneurship is a bit more of a risk when you have a child or two.)


Your Current Expenses

Eva was renting a small bedroom in a home shared with several other renters. Because of this, her cost of living was very low. She had flexibility in her living expenses and she didn't have a family to support at the time. Without a ton of huge expenses, she was confident she could take a chance on herself to start a business.


your Ability To Reduce Your Income

Essentially, you'll need time to build your dream. Time is something that's very limited - especially if you're working 40 hours a week at your 9-to-5 job. Eva was able to reduce her income because she reduced her expenses. With less bills to account for each month, she wan't in a huge hurry to find a job after being laid off. 


Get More Hours To Put Towards Your Business

Eva only needed steady income that would cover her dramatically reduced expenses. To ensure she would still have enough time to work on her business, Eva started working a part time job at a grocery store for 3 days a week.


How Do You Get Started?

The first business Eva built was a professional organizing business.

She enjoyed organizing her things and thought that professional organizing would be a great direction to take her life next. She planned go into people's homes and counsel them on what items to let go of, what to keep and how to arrange their things. 


Test Your Idea... On Real Clients

She got started immediately by out an email to her neighborhood listserv. She didn't charge her first few clients for her services. Instead, she offered to organize their things in exchange for testimonials.

She quickly got referrals and clients from around the neighborhood and her little business was off the ground.

By simply testing out the professional organizing business, she was able to validate that there was a market within her community that would pay for these services. 


Don't Be Afraid To Walk Away

Something unexpected happened once Eva worked with a few clients: She realized that professional organizing wasn't a good fit for her. #GoFigure

Eva could tell pretty quickly that professional organizing didn't make her happy the way she envisioned so she shut down her professional organizing business

"Stop things when they don't feel good"  - Eva Janotta

Test out your product or service among a small number of users to see how you feel about them before building out your business.  

(Pro tip: Don't start your business by spending your time and money building websites and creating branding. Instead, see if there is a market out there for the business you would like to start AND see if the business is something you'd be interested in doing by simply trying it out first.)

Eva sees this as a huge success  because she didn't not waste much time or energy building out a business and marketing plan for a business that didn't align with her vision for her life.


Pivot, When Necessary

After one #EpicFail, I would've totally been sitting in a corner, licking my wounds, but not Eva! 

She leaned on one of her past experiences when a friend came to her needing help with social media. Eva was officially in the social media marketing business.

It turns out that online marketing felt just right and energized Eva in a way that professional organizing did not. Her business grew from word of mouth and her clients (who totally loved her work) started telling people other about her.

Over time, things started to pick up pace.


Use All The Tools In Your Arsenal

Eva leaned heavily on her past experiences to become a brilliant social media marketer. You can always take skills that you already have to build something that will be valuable to your community. What skills do you already have that could add tremendous value to someone else? 


Take Baby Steps

Remember that job Eva had at the grocery store?

Once Eva's social media business started to grow, she noticed that she didn't have enough time to do both.

Rather than completely lose her stable income from the job, she decided to work less days over time as her income from Simply Put Strategies started to grow.

After her first year of business, Eva dropped from 3 days to 2 days per week.  Just six month later, she dropped to 1 day a week. Finally, Eva made the leap into becoming a full time entrepreneur after two years of business. 


It Doesn't Happen Overnight

Entrepreneurship is not a sprint, it's more like a marathon. Take your time learning how to build it right. Build a strong foundation on which to grow your dreams.


Get Ready For The Ride

Becoming an entrepreneur isn't nearly as glamorous (or fast) as many social media posts might lead you to believe. In fact, Eva will be the first to tell you about how emotionally challenging being an entrepreneur ban be. But if you're up for a challenge and ready to build something of your own that you can be proud of go forth and prosper, my friend!

It's totally do-able! 


Meet Eva


Eva is one of five entrepreneurs featured in our #SideHustleGoals video series

Eva Janotta is the owner of Simply Put Strategies, a social media marketing consultancy that uses social media to create and nurture relationships between brands and their fans by telling the unique brand story. 

Learn more about our #SideHustleGoals video series here.


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18 Epic Email Marketing Hacks To Turn Subscribers Into Paying Customers (without running a sale)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Join the FREE 5-Day Email Explosion course that teaches my simple process to increase my email list by 500+ subscribers EVERY MONTH. Subscribe to the newsletter to start the course!

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From the moment I started to build Thrive Lounge, I looked for ways to put my entirely-too-nerdy-for-words marketing brain to work.

I started off marketing the blog through social media marketing. I spent months posting to Facebook, engaging in conversations on Twitter, creating beautiful images with 30 relevant hashtags and posting in real time on Instagram.

The only thing I gained from the hours spent on social were a few "likes" from people I'd never heard of, some "you go girl" DMs and countless "love what you're doing in the community" comments in response to a picture of me looking away and smiling subtly in a rustic alley. (After months of IG posting, I had mastered every version of the gaze-and-smize pose imaginable.) 

Still, I continued testing different marketing platforms. 

The testing FINALLY paid off when I started email marketing with ConvertKit.

What the heck is email marketing? 

Email marketing is when a business collects emails from prospects (people who might be interested in their product or service) to be able to provide additional value to them over time.

Email marketing is a bit better than social media marketing in my opinion because you have the benefit of knowing who is on your list - and can contact them at any time. This is totally different from social media where the only way you're reaching your audience is if the social media gods allow. On social, algorithms choose who sees your content and when, but through email the power is all yours. 

What is ConvertKit? 

ConvertKit is the email marketing service I use to collect emails through my site, manage my email subscribers and implement my marketing campaigns. 

I switched from Mailchip to ConvertKit 6 months into my blog and immediately saw a huge jump in subscribers, engagement from my audience (they were actually emailing me back for once) and sales! #WootWoot

Related: Six Simple Steps To Gain 500+ Email Subscribers Per Month On Autopilot


Making the Sale

The real change came for me when I created my first e-book and started selling the book - only to my email list. Within the first two months I had made $500 - JUST THROUGH MY EMAIL LIST (more than I'd made in an entire year before then).

Here are 18 ways you, too, can turn your subscribers who already know and love you into proud owners of your products.

I've divided the tips into easy, medium and hard options. Depending on how familiar you are with email marketing so you can start where you are and grow from there.  



These are some of the most simple email marketing tactics. Even if you're new to working with email or you don't really know what to email your customers, there is something here for you! 


1. Actually sell something

My biggest mistake when I first started blogging was to get started with absolutely no product to sell. I always thought that no one would buy my product and that people on the internet only want free stuff. It turns out that was not true at all.

The moment I got up the courage to create a product and put it out there into the world, I was able to start making sales. 


2. Write better copy

If you already have products to sell and you're letting your email list know about those products - and they're still not buying - then your copy might not be enticing enough. 

Email copy is the wording that you use to talk about your products and services. Try tweaking the way you talk about your products and how your product will add value for the person buying. 


3. Affiliate Links

Even if you have no product to sell, you can always start practicing by selling other people's products through affiliate marketing.

Affiliate marketing is where you tell your audience about products you're currently using - and if they click through your link to purchase the product, the company will pay you a commission or referral fee.

Pro Tip: Michelle Schroeder-Garderner is currently making anywhere from $30K-60K monthly in affiliate sales alone. I took her Making Sense of Affiliate Marketing course earlier this year and I'm currently in the process of implementing what I've learned. I'll definitely keep you guys updated once I start to see results.


4. Use the holidays

People are usually in a buying kind of mood around the holidays. Christmas and New years are always great times to remind your email list about your product, but there are several other holidays like Valentines Day or Mother's Day where people are primed to take out their card and start swiping for their loved ones. 


5. Sell in the PS.

I love adding a PS to my emails. It's a delightful way to add a little something extra to the end of an email. Sometimes sending an entire email telling people all about your product can be scary.

What if they don't like it or (even worse) what if they unsubscribe? 

If you're not ready to go super gangster and directly tell your audience about your product, you can always start small with a gentle nudge in the PS.

PS. If you're still trying to find your path and define your big vision, click here to order The Vision Board Planner Bundle. (#LeadByExample

6. Share Testimonials

One of the greatest ways to let your audience know how awesome your product is is to show them the impact your product is making on the people who have already bought it. 

Ask the people that have already experienced your product for a review and send a collection of reviews as an email to your audience. Not only does this keep them aware of the product, but it lets them know that you're not the only one who loves your product. 



If you've got a little bit of experience under your belt - and you've already tried a lot of the first few ideas - you'll want to give some of these intermediate emails a try. 


7. Teaching emails

The people who came to your website and ultimately signed up for your email list because they believe you had something of value to offer them. Maybe it's the information that you're offering or the easy way you break down complex concepts - either way, you want to continue adding that value to each one of your subscribers. 

Teaching emails are a great way to do this. 

Rather than sending a basic email talking about what you did this weekend teach them something new. This will help build more trust with your audience so that when you do sell something to them (maybe in the PS.) they are more excited about buying from you because you've already established yourself as a great wealth of knowledge and giving teacher. 


8. Helping above and beyond

It's pretty easy to help your audience above and beyond, you just have to look for the opportunities to do it. 

When someone emails you on your list, take the time to email them back. 

For example, I email all of my new subscribers and ask them about their goals so I can learn more about them. I always email back. I've been known to hop on a call or two with readers. Then I try to incorporate their goals, questions and feedback into the content I produce on the blog over time.

Listen to your audience and find a way to go above and beyond for them. These are your future customers so treat them with care.


9. Keep them engaged

In ConvertKit, you can create a sequence that will continue to share great information with your audience over time on autopilot. You can easily create a 10-email sequence to reach out to each person on your list and share a great article or teach them something new on your topic. 

That way, when you do email them to offer a product they're not wondering "who the heck is this emailing me?" Instead they'll be accustomed to seeing your helpful emails on an ongoing basis and , in turn, are more likely to open your emails and purchase your product.   


10. Selling Sequences

If you're constantly providing value to your audience, you're doing yourself a huge disservice if you're not taking the initiative to sell your product. People who are reading your content and loving your email list are probably waiting for your email about your products.

Create a selling sequence that will introduce your product to your subscribers and then strategically sell it to them in multiple emails. 


11. Hard Sell Email

I first got one of these emails from Marie Forleo when I ever-so-kindly signed up for more information about The Copy Cure product with zero intention to buy any time soon (I mean, it's $500 and my copy is just not struggling THAT BAD). 

After signing up I received weeks of emails where she gave me some great tips and advice for how to improve my sales copy + writing in general. I'm not gonna lie... those emails were pure gold! 

Then came the day when I got my last email and it was a hard sell.

Basically the email said "Hey, this is the last email, we've gave you some great tips - and that's only a small fraction of what's offered in the full course. Are you going to buy?"

Unlike a soft sell, where you're gently nudging your reader to buy your product, this one is very in yo' face. It lets your reader know if you're serious, it's time to buy. And if you don't want the product, there will be no more free tips comin' your way!


12. Cross Sell

Cross selling is when you take a person that has purchased one product and then offer them a different product. This can be an upgrade to the product they already have or a different type of product entirely. 

It's great to send a cross sell email to your current customers because these people have already trusted you once before in the past (and loved your product because it's super awesome).

If you're using ConvertKit, you can automatically tag people who have purchased your products and easily create a filter to only message those people to offer them a new product. 


13. Give away free stuff

If someone has never purchased any of your products before you can entice them to test it out by offering them a "fremium" version of the product. For example, if you're selling an ebook you may want to give away chapter one. 

This gives your subscribers an opportunity to learn more about what you have to offer at no cost to them - and you can put your product in front of them even more!


14. Reminder emails

Don't always assume people must not want your products because they didn't buy the first time you sent an email. I always send 2-3 emails (especially if it's a great time of year where my products can make a difference for someone) to remind people to grab my products if they want it. 


15. Time sensitive - by giving away a bonus

One of the greatest ways to get someone to get off their butt and grab their credit card is to create a sense of urgency. A common way to do this is by giving your audience a 24-48 hour sale, but I want to talk about one other way that's used less often. 

Give away a time-sensitive bonus to your product. 

For example, if you're giving away an ebook, throw in a 1 hour live group call that you only get if you buy in the next 48 hours. 

Often, people do want to buy your product and they're waiting for something. Maybe it's payday. Maybe it's for a huge need to come up. Offering a time-sensitive bonus could make today the day they buy.



These tactics will be a little more difficult for someone that's new to email marketing but it's perfect for someone that has already been using a lot of the intermediate methods and are ready to take their influence and marketing to the next level. 

I've also included my all time fav tip that helps me make sales on autopilot here!


16. Send out a webinar email

Webinars are a great way to connect with your audience in an authentic way that gets them to buy. First, you FINALLY get to show a bit of your personality (and your face) to the people who have been reading your content for a long time. Second, they get to talk back. (I love using Crowdcast for video trainings because you can create polls, have full on conversations in the chat window and pull people into the video!) Third, you get to strut your stuff and show your audience how much you really know and then anser their questions directly


17. Email the right people (using tags) 

There is nothing worse than purchasing a product... and then seeing an email that the product you JUST BOUGHT has gone on sale! As you start to make sales, you don't want to be one of those people.

Instead, use tagging to make sure that you're sending the right offer to the right person EVERY TIME. ConvertKit makes it incredibly easy to know who's on your list. 


18. Create automatons

Automation is the real MVP of email marketing. 

A visual automation in ConvertKit will track the entire customer journey FOR EVERY SUBSCRIBER ON YOUR LIST. 

For example, if a reader signs up to receive a vision board checklist on my site, my visual automation will put them into a welcome sequence that teaches them how to plan out their goals and create a vision board. Then they'll enter a sales sequence to sell my vision board planner. 

(Here's the best part.)

If they purchase the planner at any time, my automation will move that person out of the sales sequence and put them into a post-sales sequence that checks in on them, asks for a testimonial and supports them in accomplishing their goals. 

Once your customer journey is set up in an automation, you can continue to sell to each person on your email list over and over again - without lifting a finger. #Magic


Your email list is a gold mine. It's a place where you can build relationships, talk directly to your audience (whenever you want to) and give them the absolute best you have to offer. You'll notice that the more you provide value, the more people will WANT to buy your products. Email marketing is the best tool to get those products in front of them and make it super easy to close the deal. 

Grow Your Email List By 500+ Monthly

Join the FREE 5-Day Email Explosion course that teaches my simple process to increase my email list by 500+ subscribers EVERY MONTH. Subscribe to the newsletter to start the course!

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Why ConvertKit Is Worth The Money (Even If Your Blog Isn't Profitable)

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

Grow Your Email List By 500+ Monthly

Join the FREE 5-Day Email Explosion course that teaches my simple process to increase my email list by 500+ subscribers EVERY MONTH. Subscribe to the newsletter to start the course!

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I started my blog in October of 2016 and it didn't take me very long to realize that if I was going to get serious about this whole blogging thing, I'd need to put some of my efforts towards building an email list. 

I really wanted to build a solid email list for a few reasons: 

  1. Social media algorithms control who sees your posts and when (so if I have a time sensitive offering, many people that "follow" me might miss the post)
  2. I would own the names and emails on my list. (No matter how many times you ask, Mark Zuckerberg is not giving up the names and emails of all your followers :) 

Once I was clear on the goal, I had to figure out the how. That's when I stumbled upon ConvertKit.

I've been using ConvertKit for about 8 months now and in that short time, I have reached almost 2,000 subscribers without even trying, started selling my products on autopilot and (to be honest) finally got over my fear of over-selling and over-emailing (or under emailing) my audience. 

What is ConvertKit? 

It's an email service (kinda like Mailchimp or Mailerlite) for professional bloggers ready to take their game to the next level. You could say the other email services are bringing a knife to a gunfight when they're going up against ConvertKit. The service is legit.  

ConvertKit gives you easy to create + manage landing pages, pop up boxes and email collection forms. It also manages your email lists and makes it super easy to communicate with all the people on your list.


Before Convertkit

I started my blog in October 2016 with Mailchimp. Here was my growth from January to April 2017...


After months of serious blogging and promoting, I increased the email list by about 50 subscribers over the course of four months - and most of them came from in person events! 

No one was signing up for our clunky email forms and it was really hard to provide the value we wanted to with our audience (I'll go into detail about that more later.)


Here's what happened when I switched to ConvertKit

It took about a month to rip out all of the crappy mailchimp forms and integrate ConvertKit into my site, but once I got that all done here's what happened.


I almost fell on the floor when I saw over 500 subscribers in December. I was bragging to pretty much everyone and trying to get them to make the switch. It seriously felt like the email subscriber gods were smiling down on me... and makin' it rain.


What Makes ConvertKit Amazing

ConvertKit completely changed the blogging game for me because for the first time people were signing up for my freebies, responding to my emails and actually buying my book. I actually felt like a professional blogger!

Here are a few of the reasons I'm happy I made the switch: 


beautiful + simple designs (even for non designers)

ConvertKit doesn't have just one generic form that you put on your site. There are several options to choose from - and you can design it with all your brand colors. Seriously, they've created each form so you can customize it however you like... and for my non-creative friends - there's literally no way to screw it up.

Pop up boxes:



Email forms (which you'll see at the end of all my posts):



And there is more than one design option. So you can make it super minimalist if you want:



You can even create an entire landing page in minutes! 

Check out the landing page I created for Creating A Blog Schedule For The Entire Year.


The best part is,  you can make all these changes by the touch of one button: 

landing page.PNG

I don't have any design skills so the fact that it's SUPER EASY to design email boxes and landing pages in ConvertKit is AMAZING!



 Have you ever agonized between two different email subject lines, analyzing them to death?

Then, you give up and send the email, only to have it fall flat once you sent it out? And (after mediocre results) you silently thought to yourself...  I should've tried the other subject line.

At that point its too late, my friend. 

But in ConvertKit, you can test TWO SUBJECT LINES... BEFORE you email your entire list.  (I didn't even know that before signing up.)



You simply put both of your headlines into your email and ConvertKit will choose the subject line with the highest open rate after four hours and automatically email the winning subject line remainder of your list. 

With no additional effort from you. #winning



How many times have you had an issue with a service and had to wait days (and suffered through tons of emails back and forth) to get the problem resolved? Way too damn many if you ask me

ConvertKit's IT team has always responded back to my messages in 12 hours or less - and it doesn't matter when I email them.  

A couple of months ago,  I was working with my visual automation for the first time and I ran into an issue.  I emailed them at night before bed and had a response by the morning. 

I know my money is well spent when I never have to feel frustrated because I'm not hearing back from IT.   



From the moment I switched over from Mailchimp to  ConvertKit, I started to see a bump in the number of subscribers I had.  

Mailchimp requires someone to double optin to your list. That means when they enter their email on their site, they have to log into their email, wait for your email to come through to "Confirm Their Subscription" and then prove their human before their name and email get added to your list.

So if someone is in a hurry and doesn't have time to log into their email to confirm, they do not make it onto your list. 

Their email address disappears.

You cannot nurture that relationship. 

They wont come back to your blog.

You won't make the sale. 

ConvertKit doesn't require a double optin! From the moment someone enters their email address, they're on your list and the only thing they receive in their email is the freebie they were expecting. #winning


What's Not So Hot


The Dollars And Cents

Seriously, it took me the longest time to switch over to ConvertKit because of the cost. On top of that, I had to invest in it before my blog was profitable. I was already paying $20 for because I was focused on cultivating a local audience in DC. Paying the $29/month that I'd have to pay to use ConvertKit immediately put me at $49/month for a blog that wasn't making any money. 

That was a huge consideration point for me, but I decided that I really wanted to be a professional blogger. I wanted to do it the right way and every time I went to the website of the bloggers I admired, they were always using ConvertKit. 

Eventually, I bit the bullet and bought it.... and it was the best investment in my blog - ever.  


ConvertKit has made a huge difference in being able to reach my blogger goals - and my personal goals. I want to pay off my student loan debt this year - and ConvertKit is helping me to build my audience, nurture them - and sell to them all at the same time. 

I never imagined I'd be with them for this long (because that first payment stung a bit switching over from a free email subscription service) but now that I've seen the results for myself, I couldn't imagine blogging without it. 

Grow Your Email List By 500+ Monthly

Join the FREE 5-Day Email Explosion course that teaches my simple process to increase my email list by 500+ subscribers EVERY MONTH. Subscribe to the newsletter to join the course!

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