Community: It’s Time to Unmute

On a recent meeting, one of my esteemed co-workers said, “Can you please unmute yourself and give a round of applause for all that you do”. And it dawned on me. It’s time to unmute.

We are programmed to be on mute! I think it’s time to leave the mute button off, don’t you?

What a crazy metaphor for life right now. We have been locked down, forced into fear about our health, rebirthed and now…now what? Well, hope is now what.

It’s time to have some hope for the future and its definitely time to unmute.

The Year of Unmuting

The fact that someone had to personally request their team unmute to actually hear their voices is a sign that we have been silent for too long.

Here’s the real deal – mute is soooo 2020. The entire phrase of, Karen you’re on mute needs to get gone. Be done.

What exactly am I saying? I’m saying it’s time to speak up, be heard and get loud.

Where are you in your life? It’s 2021, you survived a pandemic. You fed into the bs, you lived through it all. You made choices that you never thought you would need to tackle, ever. You are now physically, emotionally, and spiritually a different person, even if you don’t subscribe.

So now what?

Well, we’ve been talking to mute for years. Isn’t it time we just unmute and say how we feel? Isn’t it the craving for connection that is really driving us to look forward to meetings?

I don’t know about you but my entire philosophy on meetings has changed. I now look forward to each meeting – seeing everyone’s face – laughing through all the things…it’s the OG watercooler grind.

Your Mental Health Depends on The Unmute Button

Spoiler alert – remote work does not have to be isolating. It doesn’t have to be a drag, all by yourself. You can actually create genuine relationships across the web.

Michelle Frechette of WPCoffeetalk and GiveWP and all the WordPress things, is a perfect example of this beautiful thing called a virtual friendship. We connected in the WordPress community and are now supporting each other in all aspects of our lives – and I’ve never met her IRL.

Why do Michelle and I work so well? Well, we’ve never been on mute. We have had the chance to be ourselves around each other – no matter what.

This led to a beautiful relationship with Big Orange Heart where I contribute blogs (about belief), volunteer my time to help organize events on mental health awareness…and it’s just so serendipitous because…

This is all because I didn’t mute myself. I spoke up and out and built these amazing relationships that have literally gotten me through this life.

Shout out to everyone who has encouraged me to speak my mind!

Unmute Your Life

Listen, it’s not about the distracting noises or the respect of your coworkers – it’s about speaking up when you have something awesome to contribute and never being sorry about it.

Unmute your life, dude. Do all the things you are scared to do. Be brave to face the day with a new attitude – you pick the metaphor and run with it.

It’s funny, I wrote a post about how to overcome virtual fatigue and I think I just realized the answer…turn on your microphone.

Where are you muted in your life? Outside of Zoom, are you stifling your voice? Are you sitting down where you know you could stand up? Yeah, I think it’s time to stop all that.

What would happen if we lived in a non-muted world where everyone had value, everyone had worth and everyone’s voice counted? It would be loud, but it would be proud.

CBCInked Wrap Up: Be Loud

I don’t know if it’s summer vibes or gaining more knowledge about myself, but I feel like I turned a corner personally. I have learned more about who I am in the last month than I have in the last few years.

Being able to be in a supportive team setting professionally is more important than the paycheck. Working with and being around people that actually make me happy to be me – is priceless.

I am honored to unmute and speak my peace (no matter how ridiculous) with my people. You know who you are.

And I appreciate you listening to me rant. I hope you decide to unmute on your next meeting and bring some fun things to the table. After all, the future is ours.

The new phrase for 2021 is be loud.



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GDoc SEO Assistant: Review and Blogging Tips

As a content writer, I can honestly say that tools are what get my job done. I found GDoc SEO Assistant by accident, actually.

I’ve been using it for a month now and I wanted to share my experience with other bloggers in the content world.

If you don’t know a lot about SEO, this little helper tool will just do the job for you. If you do know SEO, this tool will still help you! It helped me, and I know some stuff.

Here’s how it works along with my review on Google SEO Assistant:

It’s an add-on in the Google Docs suite. It’s free.

Here’s what it includes:

  • SEO Score – instantly know how well optimized your content is.
  • SEO Suggestions – receive real-time suggestions to optimize your content.
  • Related Keywords – improves the semantic relevancy of your content.
  • Keyword Data – help with keyword search volume, trend, and competition.

Here’s where to get GDoc SEO Assistant.

Head over to Google Workspace Market and find GDoc SEO Assistant.

Click the blue install button and it will prompt you to open your Gmail.

Once you’ve approved, open a Google Doc and look for Add-ons.

Click Show. This will enable it whenever you’re ready.

Here’s how it all works.

Here’s how GDoc SEO Assistant works.

Once you’ve installed it in your GDocs, it lives there. When you click, Show…this will populate it on the right side of your document.

Plug in your keyword to generate relevant SEO suggestions and related keywords.

You can optimize your content based on the suggestions provided.

Use related keywords to analyze and improve your content for better SEO.

Get help with target keywords, including search volume, trend, and competition. This will give you insights on how to choose the best keywords for your blogs.

Here’s how GDoc SEO Assistant helped me.

Since I am a medium-level SEO and content marketer, I know a little bit about everything. But I don’t know it all.

GDoc SEO assistant helped me with the things I “missed”. The secondary things that really help boost your content to the next level.

It helped me with my secondary keywords, the details in the images, the density of the words…and even semantics.

It thinks for me when I am tired and have been writing for hours. Like a little helpful friend saying, “oh you missed a spot”!

You are not perfect. And you’re writing isn’t either. Sorry, not sorry!

But with tools like this, you can get on Google’s good side and make some waves.

Marketing in a Box EBook

CBCInked Wrap Up: GDoc SEO Assistant Review

If you’re anything like me, you doubt everything you write. You’re scared it’s not good enough or if it will even make a difference.

I’m here to tell you to keep writing.

But also, use the tools to help you become a better writer. One day, you will make a habit of these things, until then – rely on the tools.

My advice is open it when you need it and use it when you’re stuck.

If you need help content marketing, reach out to me! Or check out the Content Marketing in a Box course and learn yourself.

Either way, keep writing and bettering yourself. You got this!



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4 Tips to Pamper Your New Pet With a New Business

Have you decided that now is the time for a new pet and a new business?

Launching a business while also welcoming a new pet into your home can present some unique challenges. But it also affords you the chance to learn, grow, and build the life you truly want. 

After all, pets are the BEST.

Nothing wonderful in life is ever truly easy, and pet ownership and business ownership can be the same! Yet, you’ll soon be one professional whose business and overall life are enriched by bringing home the pet you’ve always wanted.

Ready to learn how to pamper your pet while juggling new work responsibilities? #newpet

Here are some smart and practical tips to keep you grounded while bonding with your new furry family member.

Prioritize Your Pet

Balance in your daily life takes effort, especially during the transitional time as your pet is settling in at the same time you’re juggling a new business. But keep in mind that new pets need time to get comfortable and bond with you.

Shelter pets, especially, may need some additional TLC. Plus, you need the stress relief your pet provides!

It just makes sense to take breaks during the day to tend to your pet’s needs. For one thing, studies suggest that petting or spending time with your critter can boost your mood, per the National Institutes of Health. Caring for a four-legged friend can also mean more exercise in your daily routine. Work is essential, true. 

But so is maintaining your mental health — and your furry new friend is the perfect de-stressor you can tap daily!

Create Routines

Routines are vital for successful business owners — just ask experts, like the founder of Twitter, how they structure their days. 

Schedules are also handy for your new pet. Both of you need regular wake and bedtimes to maintain energy levels during the day. Regular snack or mealtimes are a must for regulating moods and keeping metabolism up.

 A bit of a break for relaxation and getting outside is also beneficial. Fresh air can be rejuvenating for creative minds, and whether you have a pocket-sized critter or a large dog, some time in the sunshine can do you good.

Exercise should also be part of your day, whether you have a pet or not. Most business owners are too harried to make time for hitting the gym, though. With a walkable pet — a dog, of course — you have a built-in excuse to reconnect with nature and enjoy the great outdoors. Whatever your routine is, make sure it works for you and your new family member. 

Tweak your day until you feel refreshed in the morning and ready for rest at night, and you’ll both feel more balanced and happier.

Establish Creative Areas

You need a workspace that speaks to you creatively and allows you to focus. 

Your pet needs a comfortable space where they feel safe and can be near you. You can achieve both with a well-thought-out office area. After all, separation anxiety is real, especially with a rescue pet or younger animal. 

While felines can be finicky, dogs often want to keep their humans in sight. All free-roaming critters need a comfortable sleep area, access to food and water, and some form of entertainment. Keeping their spot near yours can help with bonding, plus give you an incentive to take regular breaks and breathers. 

For your work area, outline your needs based on your industry or specialty. For example, artists might need more floor or wall space for their works-in-progress. Techies may require more desk area for multiple monitors or technology setups. 

Regardless of your niche, make sure that your work area has plenty of natural — or as close to natural as possible — lighting. Aim for access to a window or another source of fresh air and keep the space uncluttered (except for those pet toys, of course).

Outsource Essentials

Learning to delegate is often a tough exercise for business owners. But when it comes to those tasks that make you sigh with frustration, outsourcing becomes a necessity.

Outsourcing essential yet dull tasks free up your creative working time. It also ensures you’re not sitting at your desk longer than is necessary. 

You may love your work, but that doesn’t mean you need to put in twice the hours that an average day job would require.

A simple solution to this challenge of working for yourself is to outsource tasks to other professionals. Delegating means you can dedicate your creative hours to bigger tasks — likegrowing and advancing your business. It also means business is taken care of without you burning the midnight oil.

To find qualified freelancers for the job, consider which tasks you can outsource with minimal training or guidance. Then, post a descriptive and brief job posting to the right freelance jobs board. 

You’ll connect with capable candidates — and you can outsource everything from graphic or web design to Photoshop services. Need regular, or just more, administrative help? A virtual assistant could be the solution to your needs. Plus, a VA can even handle household tasks — like re-ordering Fido’s food or scheduling a grooming session for Fluffy.

In addition, outsourcing can also help you with your pet’s needs. You may notice that your pup is most energetic midday, right when you hit your creative marathoning hours. Hiring a dog walker could help fulfill both your pet’s needs and your business ones. 

For other kinds of pets, it’s less likely that you’ll need someone to handle training or regular care, apart from grooming. But if your pet enjoys an occasional pampering spa day, that could free up your time for more business-related tasks — guilt-free.

CBCInked Wrap Up: Tips For Your New Pet and New Business

Bringing a new pet home while growing a business may sound like a tricky situation to navigate. But if you’ve made the decision to add a furry friend to your household, there’s no reason you can’t balance work and play and still feel fulfilled and empowered. 

Both your pet and your business can contribute great joy to your life if you take the time to nurture both! 

This article is a guest post by Cindy Aldridge of Our Dog Friends Organization. If you’d like to submit a blog idea, reach out to me, any time. 

For the marketing resources and training to grow your business, visit CBCInked today.

Photo via Unsplash

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11 Tips To Keep Your Social Media Safe

Looking for some tips on keeping your social media safe? 

In today’s world, anyone can get information from anywhere online. It’s kind of scary.

With secure logins, facial recognition, and thumbprint verification, you feel safe, right? 

I’m not so sure anymore. I say it’s better to be safe than sorry. 

I’m going to cover some tips on social media security, so you can still post with some relief that your online identity will be safe. 

keep your social media safe

Tips To Keep Your Social Media Safe 

What I see is that social media is becoming a huge part of how we get information now, without much security. 

It’s not the login that’s not secure, it’s the posts you share and the profiles you link to that need security. #keepyoursocialmediasafe

Hackers have a way of taking advantage of online security, and since anyone can hack into a phone, it’s important to think about what you’re posting. 

Here are my 11 tips to keep your social media networks safe.

1 Use a huge, long complicated password

My hubs taught me this one. I used to literally use ABCs and 123s. SUPER FAIL.

You can have the password generators auto-fill it, which I never do but is helpful. Or you can create one that is memorable to you. It has to be extra complicated though! Here’s a good example: 

Password: Th3J0hnsuNzH@uz55**Q1

I know it’s a pain to remember, but you can copy it into a secure source or write it down in a safe place.

Or use a password manager. 

2 Use a password manager

If you want to get really fancy, you can use a password manager like LastPass or Google Password Manager. The only thing is, this requires a master password to get in, so you have to remember that one. It’s passwords on passwords…

This can be a great tool to remember all your social media passwords and have them in one place. There may be a small fee involved, but it’s worth it to be safe. 

3 Don’t accept followers or fans that you don’t know

It can be really tempting to accept followers as they come in on social. 

It’s exciting when people want to follow you and the likes grow! I get it. But if an account follows you and it looks suspicious, I wouldn’t accept it. 

The easiest way to do this is to check out the profiles of the people that follow you. Quick tip – if it’s a scantily clad female or an inappropriate image – it’s probably not cool. 

4 Unfollow people who are spam posting

As you grow, you may have followed people that you thought were interesting. Sometimes they turn out not to be. 

Sometimes they turn out to be weirdos. 

Go through your current follower list and unfollow anyone who feels spammy, inappropriate or robotlike. 

5 Change your passwords every few months

This one is a toughy, but it’s important. I don’t know about you, but I HATE changing my password. I try to spend my time memorizing it so I don’t have to look it up…and then to have to change it? Ugh.

This is where the password manager will help. There are also password extensions you can get for Google Chrome or Safari that will help to remember passwords. They can easily be updated and still stay safe. 

6 Never give your social security number on social

This may be a no-brainer, but don’t just through your SSN around. It’s important to keep your banking information in the right hands. 

Here’s a quick list of when you are asked to put your social security number in and it’s okay to do: 

  • Tax identification
  • Banks or credit unions 
  • Medical facilities 

Other than that, don’t ever put your social security number in a social media network.

7 Use two-factor authentification

Are you a fan of two-factor authentication? I’m not, but I know it’s necessary. This is an app that will send a verifying message to your phone in order to log into an account. 

The Google 2-Step Verification sends a 6 digit number to the app on your phone, which is generated every few minutes or so. Then you can enter that as additional security on accounts. 

8 Keep an eye on your comments

One thing I noticed, is that if a “spammer’” starts following you, they often will comment something SUPER inhuman.

They may say something like “DOMAIN FOR SALE! Your site is hacked and you need XYZ today!” 

Ok, calm down. Spamming someone’s comments is a huge red flag.


9 Check your bank account often

Another good thing to do, if you have a digital presence is to check your bank accounts – and do it more than you think. 

When it comes to social media security, they are all connected. You may buy something from Instagram and never even leave the platform to check out. That means your data is subject to hackers. 

Check those accounts and be wary of any weird purchases. It’s happened to me quite a few times and Chase has been excellent about fraudulent activity. 

10 Delete old posts with older comments

Your social media builds on post after post. Eventually, you have a stockpile of older posts that may have some sensitive information you don’t know about. 

Take some time to scour through your older posts and delete where needed. You may even find that people have come back to older posts to try to scam you, and you can handle unfollowing them as well. 

11 Never click on a link you don’t know

People share links all the time in social media. Hopefully, you are swapping links with people you know and trust. If not, don’t click it. 

PRO TIP: There are fake profiles, hackers and con artists everywhere. Don’t fall for fakers and click on links you’re not sure about.

CBCInked Wrap Up: Tips For Social Media Safety

I hope you liked my tips for social media security, it’s been on my mind for a while now to get this blog out there. We have to keep our social media safe, now more than ever.

Raising a step-daughter who will be on social media, it makes me think about my own digital footprint a lot. 

How do you keep your social profiles safe? I’d love to hear from you! Reach out to me any time.

And if you need help some marketing help, check out my webcast on how I help you save your social media

You got this! 



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Podcast Fails (For Beginners)

Did you start a podcast and immediately fail? Oh, I did.

I just started a podcast with my good friend. It feels like it’s the biggest learning curve of my life. Even though I’ve been listening to “how to start a podcast” podcasts.

So, today I share with you my podcast fails.

Let’s find out how what not to do when you start a podcast.

So, You Started a Podcast

Yes, you guessed it. My good friend and I started a podcast.

We had been talking about it for years and then one day, we just scheduled it. Apparently, that’s how you start a podcast, you just put it on your calendar.

Dr. Sarah Porray, of Soul Blessed Healing and I created the Deep Feels and Comedy Reels podcast in 2020 and have been putting it on the calendar ever since.

Here’s what I learned. It’s easier than I thought. But also hard.

Podcast Fail #1: Audio

This may be a common failure among new podcasters, but the audio was a tricky one to get down.

To preface, we have minimal tools that we work with on Deep Feels and Comedy Reels (DFCR). We use Mac computer audio and Zoom…so, that needs some work.

Here’s the audio fail.

I was recording from my computer and my voice is loud (we call it passionate in my house). Dr. Sarah was miles away in my Zoom window and the contrast between the two voices was not enough, even with headphones.

Dr. Sarah sounds miles away too!

So, we fixed this by getting some tools. Dr. Sarah got a microphone and headphones (from her lovely hubs) and she sounds like a rockstar now, thank goodness! But….alas, we had audio issues the first few episodes.

Podcast Fail #2: Music

Before we get to the fail, the awesome thing about our podcast is the jingle.

I got lucky and Dr. Sarah’s husband is a musical genius. He created this amazing podcast jingle (tune in to the episodes to hear it, you’ll like it) and it really makes us happy.

In fact, every episode, we are boppin’ in our seat.

Here’s the fail.

I messed up the the first episode‘s audio because I forgot some key things.

You need two windows open to operate the recording of the podcast and the podcast jingle. So, I would click over to the window to hit record, then click over to the window with the podcast jingle to play the music. Then back…you see how it’s already a fail…

The podcast jingle plays and I fade the music down till it’s off, then go back to the recording window and start the podcast.

I returned to the regularly scheduled program and forgot the sound was down. So, at the end of the episode, we wanted the music to play again and the jingle was delayed because I was fumbling for the music to be turned up.

The moral of the podcast story is this, just let the jingle play out at the right time you want and don’t turn the sound down.

Fail #3: Recording

Have you ever had the best event in the world and forgot to record it?

That has happened to me once (not on this podcast) and it was a nightmare. A variation of this happened to me while transferring the recording to the episode.

If you’ve ever used Anchor before, it’s pretty easy and I really enjoy the interface. But the linking of the recording to the episode is a little confusing at first.

As you can see, it’s not complicated. And I am a fairly technical person.

So, here’s the fail.

We record our first episode and it says recording the whole time. The red light is on and the timer is going. I know I recorded.

When the episode is finished, it doesn’t automatically attach the recording to the episode, it waits until you’ve filled out the information. You then have to manually upload the recording.

I entered all the details of the podcast but the publish button was grayed out. The recording minutes said 0.

My heart fell out, ya’ll.

I had to go back to the dashboard and select the recording to attach to the episode, and that took me a minute to figure out. I thought the recording did not record. But it did!

Anchor, you may want to add a little assistance there for newbies.

At least, we didn’t lose the episode!

CBCInked Wrap Up: Podcast Fails

Let’s face it, podcasts really aren’t podcasts unless you fail first.

The real glory is learning from each of these failures and not doing them again.

The good news is that we’re getting some listeners (and some compliments!). One of our cute listeners said that our voices are nice to listen to and that we are actually funny. 🙂

So, don’t let these podcast fails stop you from making your dream pod. That’s what all the cool kids say now, pod.

As always, I’m here if you want to share your podcast fails, or better yet – if you want to be on the podcast! Reach out any time.

And, give our pod a listen at any of your favorite podcast spots.

Cheers to failing and learning!



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How to Open a Business During a Pandemic (2021)

If you are one of the brave souls who would like to open a business during a pandemic, you may be looking for advice on how to do so in uncertain times ahead.

Although no one has a crystal ball to tell you what the future holds, there are some things you can do now to help you get up and running on solid ground.

Here are 10 simple tips that can help you open a business during a pandemic.

Open a business during a pandemic (with confidence)

If you’re struggling to open a business during a pandemic, you’re not alone. We don’t want you to have any fear that it will fail with these helpful tips and techniques. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. Write your business plan
  2. Understand the different types of marketing
  3. Assemble a team
  4. Size up the competition
  5. Structure the tax advantages
  6. Know where the money will come from
  7. Choose a catchy name
  8. Budget for marketing
  9. Keep customers happy
  10. Always be ready to adapt

Bonus: Open with confidence. Let’s dig in!

marketing office

1 Write your business plan

Even if you’ve been in business for years, writing a business plan can help you get back on track if you are experiencing slow growth. A business plan includes information on your company, a mission statement, and bullet points on market research and potential growth factors.

If you’re planning on opening a business during a pandemic, your business plan should also detail your products and services as well as your financials and plans for the future.

2 Understand the different types of marketing 

Marketing is how you get your business in front of your customers’ eyes. A well-executed marketing plan will ensure you stay in their minds also.

While there are many different types of marketing, including offline platforms, such as radio and mail, digital and content marketing are the most powerful tools of today.

CBCInked’s Marketing in a Box training course can help you get started and learn everything from blogging and software tools to how to create a call to action and generate leads.

assemble a team

3 Assemble a team

Even if you are a solopreneur (that’s an entrepreneur who likes to work alone), there may come a time when you need a helping hand. Assemble a team of employees or freelancers who have expertise in areas where you fall short.

If your town remains under tight lockdown, you’ll want to choose people who have experience working remotely. A word of caution here: insist on online safety practices, and require your employees to encrypt their home’s WiFi, keep their antivirus software up to date, and avoid sharing their work device with their spouse or children.

4 Size up the competition 

As a business owner, something you have to get really used to doing is spying on the competition.

Perform a competitive analysis, which helps you get a feel for the market. You will be able to better identify what value you bring and where others in your arena fall short. Without performing this step, you won’t be able to identify gaps or discover market trends that would give you the edge.

5 Structure for tax advantages 

All businesses are structured as an entity. When you are a freelancer or solo business owner, you are considered by all governing bodies a sole proprietorship. But this is not the only structure, and forming an LLC when you open a business or reopen a business can help you save money, especially if you do it yourself instead of hiring an attorney.

Do your research, and find a formation service that can help you establish your LLC entity according to local guidelines.

structure for taxes

6 Know where the money will come from 

Money makes the world go round; the same is true for your business. You have to have money to make money, and you have to know where that money is coming from to make it work for you.

Small businesses can be funded by savings, angel investors, other interested parties, or loans.

7 Choose a catchy name

Choosing a name for your business may not be as simple as it sounds. If you plan to launch under your personal name, you still have to make sure that that is not already taken. You can search for business name availability by state.

Your company must have a unique moniker for licensing and registration. Something else to consider here is whether or not you can get a domain name for your business. You’re always better off maintaining consistency, so check for domain availability as well.


8 Budget for marketing

7% this is the minimum percentage of your annual revenue recommended that you should devote to marketing. As you are writing your business plan and planning your budget, don’t neglect to set aside money to help your business grow.

If you’re going to open a business in a pandemic, partner with like-minded individuals who can help you get the tools you need to grow. Become affiliates with your favorite brands to build trust and loyalty with your market. And above all else, use free marketing tools!

9 Keep customers happy 

Keeping your customers happy is, in itself, a full-time job. This process looks different for all businesses. Regardless of whether you are a product or service provider, your customers are the ones that ultimately pay the bills.

If you are unsure about how to keep them coming back for more, ask. Send out a survey or engage in casual conversations as opportunities arise.

You might, for example, offer faster turnaround, a greater color selection, or do away with shipping fees. Keep in mind that, although you must be competitively priced, money is not everyone’s primary concern. Cater to what your customers ask for, but do not undersell your services.

10 Always be ready to adapt

Being flexible is crucial to your success.

This has never been more true than in today’s climate when the world can change in an instant. No matter how you operated before the pandemic, make every effort to put yourself in a position to change as needed.

An example of this can be seen in how restaurants have suddenly gone from being bustling Friday night social spots to masters of delivery and take-out. Disney is another great example, and the media giant now offers theater-release movies at home on their original release date.

open a business during a pandemic

CBCInked Wrap Up: Open a business with confidence 

Whether you’re just opening a business during a pandemic or getting ready to reemerge after a long lockdown, everything you do today will influence your success tomorrow.

From planning your budget and establishing an LLC to knowing how to adapt, the above tips can help you be a better business owner. In doing so, you can maintain a forward trajectory no matter what obstacles stop the competition.

CBCInked was founded by marketing master Caylin, who slays the internet from her home base in Atlanta. If you’re looking to launch a new business or reopen after lockdown, Caylin’s marketing series can help you make it happen. Contact CBCInked today for more information.

This article was a guest post contributed by Naomi Johnson of Life Based Business – a place to share both practical advice and inspiration to help you adopt the life-based business mentality and change your life. Check it out!

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How to Create a Solid Business Plan (2021)

Are you ready to create a solid business plan to crush your sales goal for 2021?

Having a clearly defined sales process has been shown to help improve the success of an organization in sales and marketing. Without one, organizations run the risk of hitting all the wrong targets, missing out on opportunities, and forgetting about the impact on the brand as a whole. 

If you follow the outline below, you’ll be on the right track for a solid business plan. Because I love it when a plan comes together.

Cue the A Team music.

The A Team

Create your purpose and set goals

A vital first step is to identify the ultimate goal of your business plan. What do you want to achieve in the long term?

For the purpose of sales, you want to sell your products and services to a wide audience. The long term vision will help you to craft a clear and unique sales process. If your sales are driven to a single account, you’ll also need to work on identifying your ideal customer. Don’t worry, it’s not that hard.

When you set goals, be gentle on yourself! Set small goals that you can accomplish in a day, week or a month. Then move on to the quarterly and annual goals. Here’s an example:

  • Share on social media daily
  • Post a blog every week
  • Host an event every month

Your business plan is already taking shape!

creating a business plan 2021

Define your target audience

As well as defining the goal of your business plan, it’s also important to take time to establish the market you’re speaking to.

Not only are you going to learn how to speak their language, but you’ll also learn what they consume as far as content, products, and services. Niche down if you can and truly define who you want to target!

Questions to ask yourself:

  • Who would use your product or service the most?
  • How can you reach them?
  • Where do they spend their time online?
tools for a business plan

Get your tools together 

Once you’ve defined the goals, it’s time to focus on the materials and systems you’ll need to help you reach your goals. This includes:

These are all tools you can use to help create your business plan, and ensure you can stick to it. Notice that self-care tools are on that list!

business plan

5 steps for a solid business plan

Using the outline below you can break your business plan into the steps that you’ll need to follow.

Once you’ve completed each step, it’s time to look at your audience, the plan you’ve set up, and the tools you’ll need to contact them to see how you can maximize those interactions.

Step 1: Generate leads with your blog

Start writing, my friends! Blogging is the #1 lead generation tactic you can do to grow your brand.

It is SO important that I have built an entire series about blogging to build your brand. Take it from me – CBCInked – I started blogging before it was cool. It was lead to priceless partnerships, lucrative opportunities and everlasting friendships.

So what are the quick and dirty things you need to know to blog? I’ve put them together for you in the Marketing in a Box course.

Step 2: Offer downloadable content

Offering your audience something that they can have (for free) is important to build authority and trust.

If you position yourself as the expert (which you are), you can offer valuable resources for your audience to keep. This includes and is not limited to, anything they can download from your website. Here’s a quick list:

  • eBook – Don’t be scared by this one. It’s not THAT hard. You just have to niche down to a skill that you think people will need. You can create an eBook in Canva or Google Slides for free. I created one for Bramework about SEO and the importance of keyword analysis. It took me about 3 days.
  • White paper – These are just really long blogs. If you have an expert opinion on how things can be done better for a certain skill, write it out! A good white paper is about 2,500 – 5,000 words. So get ready to write a lot.
  • Workshop – Yes, these can be pre-recorded downloadable workshops that you offer. You can work up a how-to or a step by step guide on your skillset and VOILA! You have a downloadable workshop. These are much like my Webcasts – take a peek.
  • Complete guide – Often you will see these complete guides for download that can be great resources. Be a great resource! Coming up with a complete guide will take time, but you can chip away at it. Here are a few examples of really good guides.
  • Case study – If someone is serious about employing you or buying your product, they may want to download a case study. These can also be made for free or you can outsource them to a content writer.

Step 3: Get social and engage with others

Social media is a must when you’re creating a solid business plan.

Once you’ve discovered your target audience, it’s time to get social. If you’re looking to sell services, it’s important to connect with them online. If you can connect with them in the real world, even better! But for now, let’s stick to the social media that you should have your brand registered on:

  • Facebook – Yes, you have to have a Facebook business page or group that will help you engage with others. Here are some tips to start a Facebook group that can really grow your brand.
  • LinkedInLinkedIn is great for networking! So do just that. Connect, support and share. And be professional about it.
  • Twitter – Having a Twitter account can be a blessing and a curse. Participate in Twitter Chats, grow Twitter Lists, and have a Twitter plan.
  • Instagram – What a great visual platform! Instagram is a great social site for sharing photos, videos and inspirational content. You can create a personal or business page and link it right to your site or store. Be careful, Instagram can get addicting!
  • Optional: YouTube, Tik Tok and Pinterest (but who has the TIME)

Step 4: Host events (virtually) and get featured on others

It’s time to host a fun event! This could mean hosting a webinar, workshop or podcast. If you can build your brand through these events, you will also be building your content library.

Hosting a webinar is NO joke, though! You need to be organized, have the right tools and connections for good hosts. I put together a Webinar in a Box webcast that has everything you need to host a successful webinar.

Don’t forget – the easiest webinar is the one you don’t throw!

Be a featured guest on a webinar, workshop or tutorial by buddying up with your support system. If you see someone crushing it with their webinar game, hop in and offer your expertise!

You better have a killer slide deck ready – you are the star of the show.

Step 5: Ask for testimonials and case studies

Once you’ve begun to build relationships, don’t be afraid to ask them for feedback.

There is no shame in asking them if they would be willing to refer your business to a colleague. Bonus: offer a sample of your product or service in return.

Take note of your response to each question, and develop the right strategy to keep the conversation going to make sure you’re on the right track.

Here is the best way to create a case study from scratch.

start a business plan

CBCInked Wrap Up: Your Business Plan for 2021 

Having a solid business plan is key to growing your brand! It’s not going to come together overnight, but if you get the fundamental pieces in place – it will start to take shape.

If you are struggling with putting together your business plan, reach out to me! I am always here to chat or consult you on how I can help. I’ve been bootstrapping my art career for over 10 years, I know a thing or two about struggling.

Marketing does not have to be hard! It takes time and personalization, yes. At the end of the day, if you have the right tools and a mission – you are unstoppable.

You got this.



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2020 Year in Review: CBCInked

It’s safe to say that it’s been a year. Like, it’s been a year.

When the thought came to me to put together a 2020 year in review for CBCInked, it felt overwhelming. But it also felt so great to look back at all that I’ve accomplished.

When you’re caught up in the moment, you may not realize all the good you’ve done. You can stumble, give up hope, get knocked down and get back up time and time again. It’s important to address your challenges, recognize your growth and celebrate your wins.

2020 was the year of ultimate rebirth.

I’m going to review all that has happened in my little CBCInked world, and beyond.

I rebranded myself

You ever wake up and hate EVERYTHING? Yep, that happened with my CBCInked brand.

For years I had been creating a brand without really creating it. I didn’t have a logo, I didn’t have an LLC, I didn’t have a “real” website. Then I had the brilliant idea to use my art AS my brand and just went with it.

I created all of my branding from actual scratch – watercolors, alcohol inks, paper, and ink. The real deal. And the new branding came alive and I am happy to add it to my 2020 year in review!

CBCInked is a reminder that you can wake up one day and become something completely different. It’s never too late to become someone new.

I wrote my first eBook

I took the plunge as a digital marketer and decided to write my very own eBook. I had written a few for client’s in the past and it seemed like the logical next step if I wanted to launch a service ( more on that soon).

So, the Marketing in a Box eBook was born! I would be lying to you if I didn’t say that it was SO much fun. I loved every minute of the creative side! With tools like Canva and Google Presentation, it was all just customizing templates. But in a super CBCInked way.

My goal for the Marketing in a Box eBook was to help other people that have been in my position. A struggling “artist” that wants to get their name out there and be recognized as talent. You need to market yourself to do that!

Marketing in a Box by CBCInked

I launched my first service

Since I had made the eBook and people were actually downloading it, I thought – welp, I better actually make the Marketing in a Box course!

I’ve always wanted a digestible marketing course that didn’t confuse me or make me purchase things. YouTube was a nightmare for digital marketers because everyone was trying to sell themselves there…so I sat down and created a downloadable file with all the things you need to know to market yourself in an easy way.

It was a lot of fun! And then I realized, I would have to market that….


I partnered with new clients

Since this year was the year of virtual connection, the partnerships I made will be lasting. We bonded during a pandemic and nothing can touch that.

I made three new partners this year and I am so honored to be a part of their tribe! Here are my new partners that I am proud to be supporting:

What an honor to support these artists on their journey – whether it be in the art form or the wellness form. Good people are my favorite.

Not only that but I was able to meet new people to star on THEIR podcasts! How fun. I was featured on the following podcasts:

Speaking of podcasts…

I launched a podcast

This may be my favorite thing that came out of 2020.

I literally launched a podcast with my best friend. It’s the ultimate dream come true. I get to schedule a time with one of my favorite people and talk about deep feels and comedy reels? C’MON!

Here it is! The Deep Feels and Comedy Reels podcast – enjoy!

We have been talking about this for a while now, but Sarah and I have a lot to say when it comes to emotions. We figured we would put our laughable way of dealing with it out into the world in the hopes it may actually help someone.

So far we have one episode (yes, we are working on the audio) and we have the next one coming soon!

K Squared Boutique with CBCInked

I created recurring revenue with my art

One of my favorite partners is K Squared Artisan Boutique right here in Georgia.

I met Kesha Darji as an art teacher and supervisor at a private school in Alpharetta. She radiates joy and good energy, so I’m not surprised she started K Squared where local artists showcase one of a kind art (with her best friend, Katie – none the less!).

We connected on Instagram and I’ve been selling my Artfirmations at K Squared in Northpoint and Marietta for over a year now! Every month I will get a notification that my art sold and it makes my heart very, very happy.

I redesigned my website

My husband (the amazing Bear) offered me a seat on his WordPress hosting plan and I migrated my website all by myself. Props to GoDaddy for the smooth transition and ultimate customer support there.

This prompted me to ask myself, do I really even like my website? Turns out, I didn’t. So, I took the plunge and redesigned it with a whole new theme! Web designers know, that’s a leap. Every blog, landing page, CTA and form was redesigned from scratch by your girl.

I redesigned my website ON MY OWN.

It’s not the best website, but it’s sweet and to the point. In a year I will probably hate it and start over but that’s the life, baby. I am happy to add it to my 2020 year in review as a part of my rebirth as an artist.

I got through a pandemic

Yeah, that happened.

I am not going to focus my entire energy in this article on the fact that I made it through a global pandemic, but I did. I DID IT. Those of you that are with me understand that is a tiny but mighty feat. I could have named this – 2020 Year in Review: dumpster fire.

As we grow in the new year, I want to say that I’ve learned quite a lot about myself (some that I still need to work on. I also learned that I am a survivor! I truly have a passion to help people and that will always win.

Don’t get me wrong, I had to leave my life for three weeks to get myself back…but I did it. We all did. Clap yourself on the back! I bet I know what got you through it. Love.

As you know…love wins, every time.

Artfirmation: Love Wins

CBCInked Wrap Up: 2020 a year in review

Thanks for taking the time to read my 2020 year in review of adventures! There were a lot of losses, a lot of wins and a lot to learn from.

Take a moment and reflect back on the year, but only look at the accomplishments! Give yourself credit that you are strong and can get through what life throughs at you.

Next year, my goal is to forge new paths with digital art, create new lasting partnerships and become the best, healthiest me yet. I can do it.

If you’d like to share your story on my blog, guest posts are now open! Reach out to me about fun partnerships in 2021.

You got this!



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Link Swaps: Blogging to Build Partnerships

Hey! New to SEO and looking to build some links to your website the good old fashioned way?

Even if you’re not familiar with the good old fashioned way, I am going to teach you how to build links through the power of content.

Yep! Blogging again. 🙂

Start creating your blog topic ideas now because you are going to need a solid article to make this happen.

Build a Blog with Quality Links

As you create blogs, keep in mind that you want to include 5-10 external links. These are considered shout-outs to trusted brands, companies you want to partner with and people you would like to support.

Your first step is to start writing. Write an awesome blog post and get these links included! If you don’t have time for blogging, I know a few content tools that could you help or you could outsource your content writing.

CBCInked does it again with these awesome link swap tips. It’s time to build partnerships with your #blog. 😉 #linkswaps

Reach out to Offer Link Swaps

If you have a trusted community, great friends and an awesome support system – you are doing it right.

Reach out to these people and offer a feature in your blogs (or vice versa!) Include them in your content and let them know how much you appreciate their expertise. This opens the door to quality link swaps – meaning that you can include yourself on their blog to drive organic traffic back to your website.

It’s a win-win for both parties because sharing is caring.

Here is a quick example! This is Dr. Sarah Porray, she is a Chiropractor (amongst many other amazing things) at Soul Blessed Healing in Marietta, GA. Not only and I going to give her a shout out in this blog, I’m going to link to her website (in this article and also linking from the image below). Then I’m going to reach out to her and let her know I feature here in my latest post! Knowing her, she will happily share it to her community and the web of link swaps have begun.

Soul Blessed Healing

Manage Link Swaps

Create a document with your blog log, publish date and the links included. Keep this updated, as this are going to be your “Link Building Partner” funnel.

Give first. Offer a link to their content first!

Make time. Schedule a block of time in your calendar to check this at least once a week, it can slip away from you easily!

Be sure to limit yourself to 2-3 requests at a time. And when you reach out, be kind, courteous and offer value (ALWAYS).

Be patient. Growing organic website traffic and relationship building both take time.

And…if you’re going to keep track of something, you mind as well make it pretty. I created a link building partners checklist that makes sure you keep track. This is just one example of what is available to you in the Marketing in a Box course.

Link building partnerships checklist

How to Run a Successful Link Swap

There are rules in the link swap game! First things, first – link to others. Here are the rest of the rules for linking out:

  • Use trusted brands, people you’d recommend and trust.
  • Find an article they have written that is relevant to you.
  • Link to them from your blog.
  • Reach out and let them know you featured them.
  • Keep track of it in your Link Building Partner funnel.

Now you’ve established respect and trust for the brands you are recommending. And you are offering them the ultimate win – a feature! Everyone loves to be mentioned.

Now it’s time to get some skin in the link swap game. Here is how to properly request links:

  • Send them your featured article with the link included.
  • Politely ask if they would like to collaborate on a link swap.
  • Offer a few anchor text options or blogs you found where you could include mentions.
  • Mark it in the Link Building Partner funnel.
  • Schedule a time in your calendar to follow up if you’ve got a yes (or a no).

Remember, link building partners are not a one and done scenario. If both of you are producing consistent content, you can throw links their way quite a bit! Keep those calendar reminders updated.

Interested in learning more about marketing? Download the free eBook Marketing in a Box with marketing training, templates and resources to grow your brand.

CBCInked Wrap Up: Link Building Ideas

I love link building through my blog!

It’s one of my favorite things to do because I’m lifting up others. I am offering a solid recommendation and passing along the goodness of people. Also, I often support local!

Keep blogging and keep linking out – it will all come back to you. Here are a few ways you can spread the link love:

  • Create a listicle article of all your top favorite brands
  • Add a testimonial or quote from the person you’re linking to 
  • Add a Click to Tweet to any article for a cool way to feature someone
  • Add a “Related Tools” section in the post featuring your favorite brands
  • Add your new Partners to your website

Good luck building partnerships through link swaps! You got this!

And, as always, I am here for you. The Marketing in a Box course is now available to you and you can learn all about building lasting partnerships with your marketing efforts. It’s an easy to swallow marketing course that you can learn at your own pace.



Slack Groups: A Guideline for Growth

How many Slack groups are you a part of? 3? 17? It can add up quick!

The power of Slack groups can be huge – if you work it the right way. If you’re not sure what Slack is or does – check it out! It started as a great way to communicate for remote work and ended up being a dual tool for marketing. I really enjoy Slack and find it as a great tool for communication.

Here’s what we will cover:

  • How to join Slack groups
  • Learn Slack etiquette
  • Engage for growth
  • To pay or not to pay
  • Your Slack Action Plan
  • Bonus: Start your own Slack group!

How to Join Slack Groups with Purpose

Before you get invited, request to join or start your own Slack group…share other content before your own to see the result!

Partnerships are made by lifting up others, supporting their goals and bonding over common challenges. So be sure to partner up on social before hitting Slack.

I work a lot in the partnerships world as a digital marketer. I have learned quite a bit about building quality relationships! I even wrote an article to help other marketers. 10 Partnership Building Tips for Marketing and this applies to Slack!

Let’s talk about etiquette…

Slack Etiquette

The first rule of Slack is to be nice. That is pretty much man law everywhere, but it’s an important reminder as you are joining a new community.

No matter what you have going on in your life, be sure to act professional, respectful and kind. It’s a time to bond together over common challenges, not cut other people down because they may not understand.

Slack Engagement Tips

When you join a new Slack group, take a moment to observe how the group works. Read the community rules and follow them, respectfully.

Start by adding yourself to different channels. If there is a welcome channel, be sure to introduce yourself and your brand. If there is an option, invite the group to view your website.

When you’re added to channels, observe behavior first and follow suit. It’s important to remember you are in another person’s community and that different Slack groups handle communication differently.

Ask pertinent questions. Involve yourself if you have something of value to share. Don’t push sales, help them with knowledge. Be open to various conversations and take your time to respond.

Marketing in a Box EBook
Download the Marketing in a Box ebook for free training templates and resources to grow your brand.

Slack Memberships: To Pay or Not to Pay

As Slack gets bigger and bigger, there is going to be more demand for powerful groups. If you are offered entry into a Slack group and there is a monthly fee, you do need to assess what value you will get out of it.

The bottom line is to make sure you have the budget to afford a monthly cost. After that, you would want to ask how you can use this Slack group to leverage lasting partnerships, increase lead generation and boost brand awareness. If it doesn’t affect your ROI, it may not be worth it!

The number of people in the Slack group doesn’t matter as much as the quality of engagement.

Slack Groups Action Plan

Create a list of Slack groups that you would like to be a part of. Remember, they can add up! It can be a full-time job managing a bunch of different groups, so be choosy about which ones you want to join.

Here is a quick Slack action plan to start today:

  • Make a list of quality Slack groups to join
  • Create a list of goals you’d like to get out of each group
  • Connect with members on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook
  • Once invited, engage with the Slack group by introducing yourself and what you do
  • Block a weekly time on your calendar to check each Slack group and engage
  • Offer value, respectful commentary and support
  • Participate in events you get invited to
  • Be patient, consistent and positive – the partnerships will grow

ProductHunt has a great round up the top 50 Slack communities to join – good luck! I created a free webcast that you can tune in all about Slack Groups. Hope it helps!

CBCInked Wrap Up: Start your Own Slack Group

Don’t be shy! Building your own Slack group can be a great marketing tactic for growth.

As the digital age becomes more and more prevalant, it’s time to make sure we stay conneted in different ways. There is something a bit different abotu Slack groups, they are more intimate and require care, just like relationships in real life.

Make time for Slack groups and make them count!

Good luck and let me know how it goes. I am a part of a few Slack groups that you may want to check out. Marketing Professionals, HubSpot, PressTribe and Ladies of WordPress are all wonderful communities that have helped me grow.

Now get going, slackers! 😉

You got this.


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