How it all began…
About two weeks ago, I bought some cute little notepads because I wanted to harness the power of physically putting pen to paper (and I can only do that if pink and gold are involved somehow). I’ve heard so many people praise the action of writing down their thoughts that I decided to give it a shot.
I was brainstorming fun, outside-the-box sales funnel ideas and automation series to grow my email list.
Back in the day, I had offered a free one-page critique back to get people to sign up for my email, and that was pretty successful (and hella fun), so I wrote that idea down.
Around that same time, I was emailing with another web designer, Jess of Jess Creatives (she’s a full-time badass). I was rambling about something to do with product creation, and apologized for rambling, and she was like, ‘that’s what other freelancers are for!’
AND BOOM. The idea started there. Free critique + other freelancers = crazy cool collaboration?
YES. The Small Biz Critique Collective was born.
What is this Collective?
The Collective, aka SBCC, is a group of six freelancers (including me) who all have their own specialty in web or graphic design, branding, copywriting, SEO, and social media.
At the moment, the main objective for the Collective is to offer one completely free critique of a small business owner’s website per month. We just ran our first giveaway, and you can see the details here.
Top to bottom, we’re going to give each winner a critique of their website and focus on any issues they want us to. Our aim is to be genuinely helpful and offer solutions. We know sometimes we’re too close to our own work to see potential problems, so we’re offering our fresh perspectives and expertise.
How did I find people to be in the Collective?
When I started brainstorming the idea, I already knew for the most part who I wanted to include in the Collective.
Jess was the first person I asked – she was in!
I next asked Amber Dewey Schultz of Clique Social + Design – we met at a Founding Moms conference last year and have since collaborated on a few things – she’s a super cool chick.
Amber was in! woo!
Next I asked Megan Ronecker of Ruby and Sass if she’d like to participate for branding.
She was totally down (yes!), and recommended Beth Bakkum for copywriting. I have heard awesome things about Beth, so shot her an email, and she was in!
Next up I emailed Alistair Gill to see if he could offer up his totally ballin’ SEO expertise. Alistair helped me clean up my Google Analytics, he is such a breeze to work with, and really knows his stuff.
Alistair was in!
A quick note about the Collective: These people are all so cool. One of the great things about creatives and freelancers is that we’re willing to try new things, open to helping out people however we can, and generally want to live a creative and atypical life. If you have the chance to collaborate with other creatives, whether in your own industry or a completely different one, do it.
So right now, we’re in the thick of our giveaway. We’ve got entries and social shares, and we’ve still got until the end of the day on October 16. Whoever wins is going to get killer insight to help them grow their business.
UPDATE: The giveaway has ended and we chose our winner!
But now let’s take a step back and talk about the nerdy behind-the-scenes stuff.
The logistics of the Collective and our giveaway
Initially, I was going to open this up to the public – sign up, you get a critique. But my biz coach Halley Gray was like, hold up – that’s super valuable insight you’re offering for free. I was like, you’re right! She turned me on to the giveaway idea, and I was sold. Instead of just giving up our free expertise, we’re going to have people sign up to win it.
This would be a huge help in preventing an overwhelming amount of critique entries, and – full disclosure – even though we all genuinely want to help people improve their business, a giveaway will help us each get exposure as well.
So, I sent an email to the Collective outlining how it would work, and created a Google doc with stuff I needed from them, as well as a timeline of deadlines and such.
(emails should always include gifs or fun pics)
Setting up the giveaway
I researched a few giveaway options, and the main ones that came up were Kingsumo, Rafflecopter, and ViralSweep. I’ve heard great things about Kingsumo, but honestly, this is my first giveaway, and I’m not sure how often we’ll be doing these, so the $198 price tag was a bit unreasonable for now.
I needed a giveaway that would allow people to enter, be added to my mailing list, and then have the chance to share on social media for more entries. Whatever I used needed to integrate with Mailchimp.
ViralSweep does all the same things as Rafflecopter, but at a much better price, so that was the winner.
And ViralSweep is pretty cool so far. It’s pretty straightforward to set up, and you can integrate it with a few different mailing services, download info for each entry, check out analytics, and more. Based on everything so far, I recommend it!
How we’ll coordinate our critiques
Once the winner is randomly selected on October 17, I’ll send an email announcement to the entrants to let them know.
Then I’ll send a Google form to the winner and have them fill that out. We’ll ask for their website URL, as well as some additional questions such as what their business goals are, their social media accounts, and things they’d like us to focus on.
With Google forms, you can set it up so that when someone submits a response, an email notification is sent to multiple email addresses, and that notification will have a spreadsheet with all of the response answers.
So once the winner fills out the Google form, each Collective member will get an email notification that the winner’s response has been submitted. Each Collective member will be able to view all of the answers, and we’ll each have a month to review and critique. One we’re done with our critiques, we’ll paste them into the response spreadsheet, so it’s all in one place.
Google Form to winner > Email notification to Collective > 1 month to critique > Add critiques to Response spreadsheet
Then at the end of the month, I’ll take everyone’s critiques, put them in a Google doc, submit to each person for final review, and send to the winner!
What happens to the people who entered but did not win?
We still have totally helpful information for all entrants who didn’t win. Each Collective member is going to write up a special “need-to-know” tip based on their specialty, and I’m going to set those up as an automated email sequence. Since all entrants are on the same email list, they’ll all get this email sequence. This is beneficial for everyone, because all entrants still get information for free, and each Collective member has exposure to potentially new clients.
Okay. That’s it for now. I’m going to write a follow-up with numbers and such so people can see how it all turned out. I’ll probably also include a handy to-do list in case you want to do something similar. Stay tuned!
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