Some updates are needed for what's now happening at CoThrive -- a lot has changed since we launched in January 2015...
At this point we have two tracks that members can join -- a business membership or a time bank membership.
Business membership - fee: $30/month or $300/year
The business membership includes low cost access to top-rated social media and online marketing help. Attendees elsewhere pay $800/day each to attend group training from Kathy Sipple. Members of CoThrive get access to the same expertise, but instead pay just $1/day for 24 hours of access to online meetings each month. Our members come from as far away as Australia and as close as a few blocks away from where we are based in Valparaiso, Indiana. Because we're online, you can truly join from anywhere, though if you're on the other side of the world, you may need to adjust your sleep habits to meet during our scheduled times.
What can I learn? Search engine optimizaiton basics, how to build a Wordpress website, how to build an opt-in email marketing account, how to optimize your social media profiles for inbound marketing, content development strategies, technical how to's and much more. Kathy Sipple is also a Reiki Master & Teacher, so she brings some calming zen-like energy to your marketing and helps you tackle tough projects in small, bite-sized manageable chunks. It's also a great way to network with other like minded small business owners and entrepreneurs -- often members form friendships and sometimes end up doing business together outside of CoThrive.
Not sure if a business membership is right for you? You can try it free for 30 days to test it out. Membership in the CoThrive Time Bank is an additional benefit to business members who wish to be a part of it.
Time Bank Membership
Anyone can join the time bank. You absolutely don't have to be a business owner and odds are, you're not. Time banking is a great way for everyone to share their skills regardless of their age, ethnicity, gender, or any other status you can think of. There are time banks located all over the world; CoThrive Time Bank is headquartered in Valparaiso, Indiana, thus most of our members tend to be located within about an hour's radius. However, members can trade hours between time banks so even here, location doesn't have to be an issue. There is no cost to join the time bank, but we do need support from members to stay afloat. Recommended annual donation is $25/year for an adult or $40/year for a 2-person household (kids are free.) If you are not able to donate at that level, scholarships are available or you may contribute additional hours to help the time banks with tasks and events to supplement or replace a lower donation level. To join, click here to get started.Read more
We ran a crowdfunding campaign that ended in February to find out if there was adequate interest in a time bank for Northwest Indiana to make it a success. Our supporters issued a resounding, "Yes!" Here's a link to the top supporters from that effort -- many thanks to their early help in getting this project off the ground.
Here are some exciting events we've planned based on the seed funding from our campaign:
Saturday, April 16th - The Big Sell Entrepreneur Competition - Merrillville, Indiana
We are listed in this recent newspaper article as T.B.N.I. and I'm not sure why... I can only assume that stands for Time Bank of Northwest Indiana. Elias Crim and I will be doing the pitch at that one, Shark Tank style, in the Social Entrenpreneur category. It's tough to divide our audience between Earth Day and Entrepreneurship, but if you're leaning toward the business side of what we do, this event has the potential to earn us some more much needed capital, as well as free office space and lots of professional support in the areas of marketing, accounting and legal advice. We'll do our best to make you proud! Members of the audience will actually get to vote on who makes it to the final round, so if we pack the audience...more votes for us! Order tickets here.
Saturday, April 16th - Northwest Indiana Earth Day - Valparaiso, Indiana
We will be presenting on the main stage at 9am and will also have a booth. Membership info will be available from members staffing table #55, stop by to learn more. Free admission, full event details here.
Thursday, April 21st - Michigan City Green Drinks, 6:30pm at Shoreline Brewery
Kathy Sipple will be talking about time banks and providing more details about upcoming events as well as how members can get involved. Suggested donation: $5 or $2/students and seniors
Thursday, May 19th 6-8pm - Time Banks and Organizations: How Nonprofits and Companies Can Benefit from Partnership. Location: Taltree Arboretum & Gardens, Valparaiso, Indiana
Linda Hogan from hOurworld Cooperative will be presenting. This will be a potluck dinner event, bring a dish to share. Donations requested to help cover the costs of flying the speaker to our area from Portland, Maine. RSVP required, space is limited. Full details and tickets available here.
Friday, May 20th & Saturday, May 21st - Valparaiso, Indiana
We are hosting a 2-day immersive training session with Linda Hogan from hOurworld.org for our newly forming leadership team. If you're interested in attending, download the registration/application and return to firstname.lastname@example.org as an email attachment asap. The agenda (draft) is available for your review. It is a big commitment of time, but it's also a big investment of our resources so we want to make sure as many members as possible get as much information as possible to help us succeed in the future. Attendance will be limited to 25. Attendance for contributing members is free; non-members (e.g. members of neighboring time banks) may also apply to attend at a minimum contribution of $100 per attendee to help defray the costs of the training.
Sunday, June 26th - 2016 CoThrive Epic Skill Swap - Valparaiso, Indiana
This will be an all day event that will serve as a meet up for existing members to meet one another and experience the many skills we possess and want to share. It will also serve as a fund raiser and member recruitment event. Sliding scale ticket price, pay what you can afford -- we don't want anyone to miss out! Reserve tickets now.
We will also staff information tables at several events at Taltree Arboretum & Gardens throughout the season. Volunteers are needed to help out, check time bank listings for details. Dates: Saturday, April 23rd; Sunday, May 8th, Thursday evenings 7-10pm from June 2nd through September 15th.
Thanks to our friends in the media for helping us get the word out!
The biggest deal: members! We've got 49 of them. And they've exchanged 27 hours (so far recorded, anyway...I suspect there are more lingering out there that haven't been logged.) To apply for membership:
- Click here.
- Select Indiana - CoThrive Time Bank (Valparaiso) from the list of available time banks.
- Fill out application.
Like this idea? Share with a friend or on social media to help spread the word!
On Saturday, October 10th 2015, I went to Chicago to attend an awards ceremony where CoThrive received a Golden Innovator award in the Media Sector of the Wheel of Co-Creation Awards, presented by Barbara Marx Hubbard and hosted by Conscious Evolutionaries Chicagoland. It was thrilling, to say the least!
Did you know that June 15-21, 2015 is Pollinator Week? Only 10% of plants get pollinated by waiting for the wind or water to bring them opportunity to fruit. The rest get assistance from winged creatures like birds, bees and butterflies.
Will you wait for business opportunities to float your way? Or are you willing to get as busy as a bee and help make cross pollination happen?
Cross-pollination, also called allogamy, occurs only when pollen is delivered to a flower from a different plant. Plants adapted to outcross or cross-pollinate often have taller stamens than carpels or use other mechanisms to better ensure the spread of pollen to other plants' flowers.
CoThrive models itself after our winged friends and the flowers they help. Members help bring opportunities to other members by sharing information and connections and making referrals. You can only grow so high with self-pollination! Join us for exciting cross pollination opportunities.
Members, check the schedule for upcoming virtual coworking events where we'll get very focused on specific actions you can take to help both yourselves as well as other members.
Not a member yet? You can try us out for 30 days to see if CoThrive is right for you.
Thanks to CoThrive member Deborah Landry for donating her beautiful images of pollinators! Please like and share to help CoThrive grow.
Marketing can seem like a never-ending, sometimes overwhelming task, especially for small business people who wear a lot of hats. I include myself in this description. You see, although I often know exactly what to do (and have consulted others on how to market their business for 25+ years), I do not always get my own marketing done.
I recently spoke to members of my marketing mastermind group about an article one of the members shared with the group titled "7 Ways to Be Insanely Honest in Your Marketing", published by Hubspot. (I'm a big Hubspot fan and got certified with them for their Inbound Marketing program, great free online training, by the way.)
I'm going to address their 7 points here, looking at them through the CoThrive Community lens:
Say Who You're Not For
CoThrive Community is not for anyone with 100% self-discipline who can log onto Facebook and not be tempted by chatting with friends, playing games or watching adorable kitten videos. If you've got that kind of willpower, you may not need coaching. Kudos to you! CoThrive is also not for divas who "have people to take care of that stuff for me." We are a community of do-it-yourselfers. We are creative, curious and enjoy connecting, but also need to be reined in a little bit and maybe could use some help setting goals and objectives for your social media marketing. If that's you, then we should talk.
- Admit to a Weak Product Feature
Oh, where to begin...? Right now, I'd say the weakest feature is the over-reliance on my own talents and coaching as the primary benefit I'm offering to member. I charge $100+/hour to consulting clients for the same brain I give members, current membership rate is $30/month. It's a good value, but the dates and times aren't going to work for everyone, especially members in time zones on the other side of the world. We got our first member from Australia recently! Yay, Australia! Yay, diversity! Booh, time zone challenges for live training offerings.
Embrace the elephant in the room.
This one's pretty easy. If I take a look at some of the social media profiles I've set up over the years, some of them look like pretty lonely, forlorn places. They need some attention or they need to be jettisoned. I have a system to keep them all running smoothly; the problem is there's no one to hold me accountable if I don't use aforementioned system. When you don't get feedback and don't have accountability built in, it can feel like no one cares and it's tempting to move onto other things. Sometimes, maybe that's the right thing to do, but other times it's not. Working together in CoThrive provides structure and accountability, not just for members, but for me too. One of my favorite things about it, actually. I feel like we put the social back in social media because we're not working on it in individual silos, but rather it becomes more like a group activity with built in support and a cheering section.
Praise Your Competitors
There are many competitors who appear uber-focused on one thing and they get very well known for that one thing. Mari Smith comes to mind. She is Mrs. Facebook in my mind, and she's someone I turn to periodically to keep up to date with the latest and greatest changes on that platform. Me, I'm more of a generalist. In fact, I frequently hear, "You do so many things", "I can't believe how many things you're into," or "You're really a Renaissance woman, aren't you?" Yes, I like to do a little bit of everything and help members who are like that too. Some may see that as lacking focus, but the good news is that I'm self aware enough to know that I can invite some highly-focused experts to offer training that offsets my style.
Laugh at yourself.
This one is easy for me. I do it a lot. I'm doing it now! I'm a funny person, at least I think I am.
Replace lame excuses with the truth.
Yep, this is a good one. We can all sit around and explain why our blogs are languishing or why we're not sending out an email blast or whatever, or we can do something about it. Let's change the playing field. Let's make it fun. Let's give a hoot about one another's marketing. Let's encourage one another, offer feedback, set and share goals. Who thinks that would make a difference in your approach. I do. Who's in?
Share disappointments instead of hiding them.
I wish every idea I thought of was brilliantly executed, but they're not. I need other pairs of eyes and ears to look and listen. My preference is to work very interactively and yet, I am a solopreneur, so that doesn't always happen for me. It's so important to share the bad news as well as the good. When I share with people who are in my corner and want the best for me, it helps me to get back on track more quickly and to remember I am not unique because every now and then I fail.
How's that? Too honest for you? Just exposing all this truth doesn't necessarily help, but I've got a plan -- for myself, and for community members -- that I think will help all of us with these truths. While we may not be able to tackle all 7 at once, I believe in the old adage about "How to eat an elephant? One bite at a time."
Pomodoro means tomato in Italian, by the way. Do you think eating that elephant in the living room, one bite at a time, with a side of tomatoes will make it a tastier task?
Not a member yet? Try out CoThrive FREE for 30 days to see if it can help you with your business.
New Online Scheduling Tool
Clients have been asking for more convenient ways to get help. I'm pleased to announce it's now easier than ever to schedule a 1:1 appointment with me. Just use this easy-to-remember link:
There's a new 15-minute "Quick Question" option if you've got one particular thing on your mind to discuss, cost is $30. There's a also a 1-hour session available for $100. Save by purchasing a package of 5+ hours or save event more -- 50% -- by becoming a CoThrive member...
CoThrive members save 50% on all private coaching sessions. They also get access to 6 hours of free online group training and coaching each week. It's like a gym membership for your business. Sometimes you need a personal trainer (1:1 coaching); other times, you just need to connect with others to practice your marketing skills, ask questions, get feedback. The low price ensures you'll get all the help you need. Like a gym though, you need to show up to get results! Try it free for 30 days.
What other services would you like? Your feedback helps shape new offerings!
Coaching Gym for Small Business
At some point, you need to get down to the business of tweeting, Facebooking, blogging, YouTubing, emailing and whatever else you include in your marketing mix.
Most small business people understand the importance of marketing, yet find it hard to market their own business. The reasons vary:
"I'm technologically challenged!"
"I never seem to be able to find the time."
"Things keep changing with online marketing...I can't keep up."
"I know what to do, I just don't know how to do it."
"I don't know what to post on social media. It's weird -- I feel like I'm bragging when I talk about myself."
"It's just not fun..."
While we can't claim that marketing will be your favorite activity after joining CoThrive, it's usually a lot easier when you get the technical knowledge you need and more fun when you learn in a helpful community of like-minded business people who want to support each other.
CoThrive currently offers 6 hours of hands on, virtual online marketing coaching per week. The cost is an affordable $30/month* -- think of it as a gym membership...for your business!
Ready to stretch your creativity and get to work?
Wondering what happens in a CoThrive virtual coworking session?
It's different every time, depending on which members show up for the live, hands on sessions, but here are some typical topics:
- How to create a pay-per-click ad campaign in Facebook
- How to find and use appropriate hashtags effectively
- How to set up an email account or campaign on Mailchimp, AWeber, Constant Contact, etc.
- How to schedule posts using a dashboard program such as Hootsuite
- Setting up or updating your Wordpress site, plug ins, themes or widgets
- How to "network dive" in LinkedIn to make connections with new contacts
- How to create professional looking graphics you can share on social media sites
CoThrive members RSVP for each session to claim a 15-minute window to cover their topic of choice. Sessions happen live in front of a group audience, as others way want to learn about other group members' requests. We meet via GoToMeeting (online.)
Kathy Sipple is CoThrive's Founder and CEO (Chief Empowerment Officer.) She created CoThrive to help small business people build their marketing muscles in a fun, casual and non-threatening way, even for the technically challenged. Sipple enjoys helping members get the quick and affordable help they need; sometimes, however, a group setting is not conducive to more in depth work. She is available for 1:1 training for those who prefer it.
Sipple is certified through: Hubspot's Inbound Marketing program; Hootsuite University; Google Adwords and Google Analytics.
*Special rate available for a limited time. Members who join at this level will enjoy this rate for the duration of their continuous membership. Members are free to end their membership at any time; however if they rejoin, they will be subject to the prevailing rate.
Friday's virtual coworking session was quite lively. I was happy to answer a variety of questions from several members. These sessions allow me to create laser focused answers to your questions.
Here's how to take advantage of Facebook's new "call to action" feature for business pages:
Another question: how do I set up a Google Alert?
Check the playlist for more helpful tips. Please attend on of the upcoming coworking/office hours sessions to get your own questions answered or just sit in and learn from others' questions.