7 Important Things to Simplify When You Run An Online Business Of One

Do you ever feel like you’re drowning in work, that your to-do list is never-ending, and that your blog and business are taking up ALL your time? Running a business of one doesn’t mean you have to be all and do all. The answer lies in simplifying.

Unlike a traditional job, where you are usually paid for the number of hours you put in, your own business income has more to do with how selective you are and the tasks you choose to spend your time on.

So I encourage you to find one – just one – area in your blog or business that you can simplify starting today. This is a small (albeit important) step towards creating the business and life you’re dreaming of. It will help you enjoy the journey and avoid burnout.

1 | Simply your income streams

There are many ways you can monetize a blog and online business – ads, sponsorships, products, services, affiliate marketing – each with their wealth of possibilities.

Simplifying your income streams means choosing your revenue sources wisely. It also means eliminating the ones that bring little to no income or don’t align with your core values.

For example, tens of thousands of companies and even bloggers offer an affiliate program (this is mine!).

However…

  • Joining more programs doesn’t necessarily translate into more income (although it generally means more work).
  • Promoting too many affiliate products might confuse your readers and you might come out as dishonest.

As a fashion-conscious friend of mine likes to say, just because you can get into something, it doesn’t mean it fits. This holds true for affiliate marketing as well.

Personally, I choose to promote Amazon products (in fact, I even wrote an ebook on how to make money as an Amazon affiliate), a few select brands that are part of the ShareASale network, plus a couple of other companies (like Bluehost – my hosting provider, and the Divi theme).

If you are like me and your goals in life and business have little to do with actually writing invoices and chasing late payments, then you can rejoice because fewer income streams usually mean fewer (if larger) invoices too. You can also simplify your business with the help of a cloud accounting service like FreshBooks.

2 | Simplify your feelings

In the age of blogs and social media, it’s really easy to get stuck in the comparison trap. But things rarely are what they seem.

For example, I’ve recently learned that one of my favorite influencers who’s gorgeous hair I’ve always admired, actually wears extensions. It’s not like she kept it a secret. In fact, she has a whole video where she talks about her hair extensions. It just took me a while to come across that video.

In the meantime, I silently compared my natural hair to hers every time her picture showed up in my feed. I’d tell myself stuff like ‘my hair will never look this good’ but I know now it wasn’t a fair comparison.

Learning that she wears extensions was an ‘aha!’ moment for me.

It also reminded me of how easy it is to feel envious, jealous or simply inadequate.

It’s all too easy to compare someone else’s freshly blow-dried locks with your greasy hair you haven’t washed in 3 days. Or their well-edited success story to your own raw, unedited life.

As a rule of thumb, you only get to know what others choose to share. You’ll never see their whole picture. But you’ll always see your whole picture.

Do yourself a favor and don’t ever compare your insides to somebody else’s outsides. Take responsibility by replacing your negative feelings with positive ones.

Instead of feeling envious or inadequate, choose to feel inspired and energized. Your journey will be so much more enjoyable.

3 | Simplify your multitasking

While it might seem like juggling multiple tasks and responsibilities at once will help you get more stuff done faster, productivity experts beg to differ. 

In fact, research shows that while multitasking, your productivity might be reduced by as much as 40%! 

Apparently, constantly switching your attention and focus back and forth between tasks is bad. Your brain needs to adjust with each and every shift and that hinders your workflow.

It’s better to focus on one task at a time if you want to get the job done quickly and correctly.

When possible, release yourself from responsabilities and commitments that are not in line with your values and don’t help move the needle in your business.

Personally, I like to:

  • Use a distractions list to stay productive and focused on my most important work for longer stretches of time. 
  • At the very least, divide my to-do list into work and personal tasks
  • Lately I’ve been using a priority list instead of a to-do list and love it. I then color code work and personal tasks. 

The Perfectly Productive Planner includes both a distractions list and a priority list. It also has an activity log, a Pomodoro tracker, and all kinds of project management worksheets. All in all, it’s an invaluable tool if you want to stay focused and save time.

4 | Simplify your social media

Figure out where your audience hangs out on social and choose the top one or two networks that work for both you and them.

Anything more than and you’ll spend all your energy and time creating social media specific content and posting it to the different platforms. Eventually, you’ll feel overwhelmed and your life will start spinning out of control.

Just because everybody and their cat use Pinterest, it doesn’t automatically mean that Pinterest is where your audience is.

However, if your niche is lifestyle, crafts or fashion and your audience is mostly female, Pinterest sounds like your jam. Just make sure you don’t waste your time compulsively scheduling your pins when you could be using Tailwind’s SmartLoop feature. Tribes are also great and I totally recommend them. This is how to get more website traffic with Pinterest.

While promotion is super important (nobody’s gonna do it for you!), you have to prioritize wisely. 

Each social network tends to have its own peculiarities and you’ll likely have to create graphics in the format that works best for each. Make your life easier by using templates (I use Canva and love it!). Also, these ready-made templates are beautiful and versatile. 

Give photos a longer life span by including them in several graphics.

And repurpose content (text + images) as often as you can. Repurposing isn’t cheating. It’s working smarter.

5 | Simplify your list building strategy

The more content upgrades, opt-in offers and ways to collect emails you have, the bigger the chances that something will fail in the end.

So instead of compulsively creating freebies in the dark, start by surveying your audience to find out what their wants and needs are.

If you don’t have much of an audience yet, have a look at your most popular blog posts.

You are better off investing a few hours into getting to know your audience rather than struggling to design an interactive PDF nobody’s interested in.

Same goes for creating lots of automation sequences. Sooner or later your emails will have to be updated. It might a simple number or a paragraph that needs to be rephrased to better reflect your business growth.

The more automation sequences you have, chances are you’ll forget to update an important email, which will create confusion among new subscribers.

Building an email list is super important, but it can get very complex, very fast. It’s better to keep it under control.

6 | Simplify your goals

Start by making a list of the things you want to accomplish in the short and long term. Then choose the one goal that is most important to you right now.

Your goal can be something like ‘make $5,000 this month‘ or ‘get in the habit of posting on social media daily‘. A simple behavior can become a habit in as little as 21 days. A more complex behavior usually takes longer. The Perfectly Productive Planner includes a habit tracker that I find very helpful.

It’s important that you don’t overwhelm yourself. Reducing the numbers of goals you are actively working on will greatly improve your focus and success rate.

Additionally, make sure the goal you are actively pursuing is meant for the person you are right now. If your goal scares you out of your wits, you might get into a state of analysis paralysis. As a result, you might try to work towards your goal for weeks or even months with nothing to show for.

I love setting yearly and quarterly goals (both the Perfectly Productive Planner and the Smart Blog Planner have worksheets for these) because they offer me guidance AND give me plenty of time to grow into the person who can reach those dreams (even if they are a bit wild to begin with).

But ultimately, the magic happens in the now. The goals that I’m pursuing today. The work that I’m doing in the present that builds my strengths, skills and courage to become the person I want to be someday.

7 | Simplify your message

Have a clean and approachable message. Narrow down your niche or angle. If you don’t know what your blog and business is about, others won’t either.

People respect people and are loyal to companies they understand. Understanding begins with the language you use and you approach to explaining yourself.

In general, you should have a single sentence explanation that sums up what you do and stand for. If you don’t have a simple mission statement because you’re assuming your business model is too complex, you’ll seem sort of lost. Which is a clear sign that it’s time to simplify and embrace a more minimalist business model.

Every piece of content you create should align with your core message. Use only as many words as you need to say what you have to say. Keep your speech plain and honest. Say what you mean. Mean what you say.

Until recently, blogging gurus have been recommending long format posts. It seemed that the longer the better. In time, this advice has been blown out of proportion.

Blog posts are not books.

With shorter attention spans than a goldfish, we tend to skim and scan long articles.

Bots want long posts that go in depth for SEO purposes.

People want short and sweet and easy to understand and follow.

So the question is… Do you write for bots or people? Striking a balance is an art.


ABOUT LAURA
Hey there dream chaser! I’m a writer, designer and the creator of The Smart Blog Planner and Perfectly Productive Planner. I’m on a mission to inspire and empower you to create a highly profitable minimalist online business and show up for your dreams in a sustainable way.