Behind the Scenes: 14 Powerful Online Business Tools Running This Skincare Blog
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On 11th March 2017, my new baby, skincerelyclare.com, was unveiled to you.
I had actually planned to unveil it on 14th March. The BathKandy interview was scheduled for 14th March at 3 pm EAT. I was editing, subscribing to online business tools and a gajillion other tasks. It was crunch time.
But then on 10th March, I thought, “Screw it, we’re going live tomorrow.”
And we did.
I usually do this.
My friend Maureen says I’m a living Nike ad; I throw caution to the wind and just do stuff. It's why it was simple for me to end the Wolf + Moroko journey.
One afternoon in July 2016, I’m writing a blog post for Wolf + Moroko, the next I’m like,“Nah. This is sucking the life out of me. I need to check out.”
And I did.
And it was great.
I read, Netflixed, relocated to Kenya and finally learned how to cook ugali. I got the creative juices flowing again.
I decided to give full-time blogging and skin coaching a shot; come back better than before. I didn’t have the foggiest how, so I turned to trusty(ish) Google, to find out.
“So, Google, tell me… how are the successful online entrepreneurs in Africa doing it?” I excitedly typed.
Nothing. Google search was like “Girl. What? Nah, we rarely talk about that in Africa.”
Everyone was talking about the result and not the process. I couldn’t have side-eyed people any harder. Like, did y’all go from 0 to 1000 in a hot minute?!
Nah, fam. Like the great Kimora Leissner says, “the road to fabulosity is blood, sweat, and tears.” It would be nice to hear and learn from this too.
Clearly, I needed to “Nike- It” again. I decided to be transparent with the Skincerely online business tools and processes. So on Saturday, relaunch night, when asked how I got #SkincerelyClare looking on point, I responded.
The questions kept coming in all through Sunday. On Monday morning, I went on Twitter and shared the tools used to get the look.
Then @nmategyero said it would make a great post. This led to the creation of a poll asking who's interested in such content. And the people spoke.
I would like to introduce #SkincerelyBTS (Skincerely Behind-The-Scenes). This is a regular feature sharing my online business journey.
I know #SkincerelyClare is a skincare, not a business blog. But that’s okay. I’m not here to tell you how to run your business. I’m here to share my journey as a millennial African woman running an online business.
So let’s get on today with the most popular question I received.
"What online business tools and services do you use to run #SkincerelyClare?"
Current List of Online Business Tools and Services #SkincerelyClare Uses
Blog Business Plan
I learned from Wolf + Moroko that I need a detailed blog business plan for the first year. It's makes it easier to track your progress.
Every blogger is different. Some plan for a quarter, 1, 2 even 5 years. Whatever rocks their boat.
1 year works well for #SkincerelyClare.
With a 1 year plan, I’m able to break down goals weekly, monthly and quarterly. I can see our past, present, and future and explain it to anyone interested chap chap.
I use tools from byRegina and Megan Minns to do right for the business.
Having excellent customer service
Being easy to use
I’ve experienced both first hand and would recommend Namecheap to anyone.
Wolf + Moroko was on Wordpress so I thought #SkincerelyClare would be too. I bought hosting and everything – the site was marcobash.com
Then I had to change my mind.
I love beautiful things. They make me happy. So when planning to relaunch Wolf+ Moroko on Wordpress, I knew exactly what the site should look like.
But the way my budget was set up? A web designer was out of the question. And I couldn’t DIY it on Wordpress. I tried, failed horribly then went hunting for a solution.
The solution was Squarespace. Squarespace websites are stunning and you don’t need a web designer or learn code to build one. I designed the site in 3 days with the help of two things.
I signed up for a free 14-day trial on Squarespace, chose the Bedford template, a color palette and watched the tutorial.
Dassit! 3 days later, I had a beautiful site I was proud of.
US$ 16/ month or US$ 144/year
I’m a full-time skin coach and blogger, so this is not a hobby, it’s a business. If I don’t plan, I don’t eat or have a roof over my head. Simple.
I have plans for #SkincerelyClare. Huge plans like creating a skin care product line. Mid-sized plans like hiring a Virtual Assistant. Small plans like purchasing office supplies.
All these plans will not come to fruition if the finances are not managed. I have Wave to help with that.
As an online skin coach, I have clients across the world. PayPal is the most convenient and secure way to accept payments.
I looked into African companies that could help with this, but I got sooo frustrated.
For clients who would rather pay in other ways, I use Mobile Money and EFT. But, these are rare cases.
Depends on transaction
It’s a one-stop shop for the Glow Guide coaching services. Clients book appointments, fill forms and pay without going anywhere else.
It's very important for to make the client go through as few steps as possible to get what they want. Acuity gets that.
Acuity integrates with Squarespace, so clients can book from the site. You can see the booking page here.
Growing your email list is one of the most important things you can do as a business. As a newbie blogger, I started growing my list back in 2015 on the free version of MailChimp.
Mailchimp had its pros, like the eleventy billion places you could integrate it. But the lack of automation, which was available only to paid subscriptions, sucked.
Mailerlite gives you access to all its features. These include automation, landing pages, web forms…for free up to 1,000 subscribers. After 1,000 subscribers, you pay USD 20/ month.
Until I can move to my goal email management system, Convert Kit, Mailerlite is serving me very well.
I’m currently the only employee of #SkincerelyClare.
This means I need a lot of systems and processes to make everything run smooth.
When I’m struck by an idea, it goes into a physical notebook then into Evernote. Evernote is my favorite place to braindump. Everything from grocery lists to treatment plans and product reviews goes there. After making sense of everything, I take it to Asana.
Asana has all my planned and current projects broken down in detail. This means every day, week or month, I know exactly what I need to be doing to get one step closer to hitting my goals.
Skincerely Clare is a paperless business. If we can avoid using paper, I'm happy. This means nearly everything is in digital form, stored in Google Drive. Blog posts, newsletters, brand elements, you name it, it's in Google Drive.
Dropbox has all the PDF freebies that I share with my email list. Since Mailerlite doesn't let you upload PDFs, I include a link in the text that directs you to download from the shared Dropbox folder.
TSheets are how I track my time, so I know what the business owes me at the end of the month.
Social Media Management
Social media is an important marketing tool for any business. But I can't spend a whole day on social media. This calls for a social media management tool.
How Skincerely Clare Buys these Online Business Tools
Most banks can issue these types of cards. Ask them online, over the phone or walk into a branch.
I use the I&M Safari card. It’s a prepaid VISA card that you load with mobile money and make your online purchases.
The initial cost is KES 875. Worth every cent.
Running a creative business in Africa isn’t without its challenges. The least we can do is talk about it. We need to do a better job of sharing our Behind-the-Scenes stories.
What tools do you use to run your blog or online business? Reply in the comments below with the name of your blog/business. We'd love to check it out!
If you would like me to cover anything in #SkincerelyBTS, comment, tweet or email and let me know!
To follow more BTS, check out my business diary on Medium