Entrepreneur Resources

  • 2020 Planners for Every Entrepreneur

    It’s no surprise that I love planners. I’ve been obsessed with the concept of planning for years: I have used the Erin Condren Life Planner for several years now, I’ve loved Corie Clark’s Purposeful Planner (and even been a brand ambassador for her!), and I use my Happy Planner products faithfully (and have more stickers for them than I would like to admit). It’s almost time to purchase 2020 planners, so I wanted to share with you the planners that I am planning to use for the year ahead.

    And yes, I did say planners, because each one meets a very specific need. I know it may seem excessive to some people, however, but I find that having a niche planner with one focus helps me to stay focused and actually accomplish my tasks.

    I also personally believe in the power of paper for productivity. I know that as we’re in an increasingly digital world, many people are making the transition to digital. I just find that paper is more powerful for my needs (which, let’s be real, are MANY as I have so many things going on).

    Without further ado, here are the 2020 planners that I am considering!

    The Panda Planner

    The Panda Planner wasn’t even on my radar, but as I was drafting this post, I saw some Facebook acquaintances discussing it. That led to a Google search, and the rest is history.

    I immediately fell in love with how it looked, and put in an order for the 90 day version of the planner.

    After 3 days of using it, I’m impressed beyond measure. Here’s why I am loving the Panda Planner:

    • It’s divided into three sections: monthly, weekly, and daily (and has a ribbon bookmark for each so you can easily flip to that section!)
    • It has a to-do list for each day – this is a HUGE win for me! I thrive off of to do lists. I try to list 3 priorities per day, and the Panda Planner has me covered.
    • There is space for reflection: whether it be good, or areas of improvement, there’s space (but not too much that it feels dominating) to reflect and improve. It also focuses on positive aspects of improving yourself vs negative and feeling like a failure.
    • Undated, so you can start at any time!

    I have a feeling that the Panda Planner is a front runner for my 2020 planning needs, and I didn’t see that one coming…

    You can get the Panda Planner in two sizes. The Pro is 8.5×11 inches, and is 6 months long. The only drawback that I have found with the Pro is that it only comes in a softcover version at this time.

    The 5×8 version is for 3 months, and has a hard cover. It is currently available in black, blue, purple, and orange, but I would be surprised if they do not debut new colors for 2020.

    I personally like the 3 month version simply for how easy it is to carry around, and since I already have so many Moleskine notebooks that are the same size, it just is the right fit for my life.

    Check out the Panda Planner on Amazon:

    Erin Condren Life Planner

    I can’t help it. The Erin Condren Life Planner (ECLP) is like Old Faithful. She’s easy to carry around (not too big, not too small). I’ve just found Erin Condren to be the basic, get-the-job-done planner. It’s in a format that I like with room to write down what I need to remember each week.

    Here are a few reasons I love the ECLP:

    • Monthly spreads
    • Weekly spreads
    • Space for lists (I am 100% a lists person)
    • That rose gold coil option – it’s gorgeous!

    Weirdly enough, as much as I love the life planner, I am toying with the idea of trying the Focused Planner as one of my 2020 planners. For a year, back in the day, I used a Moleskine planner for work productivity – I LOVED using it, and had a weekly spread – on the left side, the days were broken out, and on the right was a whole page for notes. I like that the Erin Condren Focused Planner has space for notes each week – it’s got me tempted.

    For general life, I want a generic planner – if it tries to do and be TOO much, I can’t keep up with it, and don’t use it. We all know that a planner is only good if you use it.

    I have time to figure out if I want to try the Focused version….ah, decisions, decisions.

    You can shop Erin Condren’s entire line of planners HERE.

    The Content Planner

    This one is a new one for me in picking my 2020 planner, and I am rather obsessed with the idea of it. It’s specifically designed for people who are producing content, whether it be through social media, blogging, podcasting – if you’re creating content, this is the planner for you!

    Funny (and appropriately enough), I found it on Instagram, and have LOVED Kat Gaskin’s content and free information out there.

    Realistically speaking, though, anyone who works in social media and content creation does need to plan out content. You cannot build an audience without strategic work, and this planner helps streamline all of that into once place.

    The Content Planner helps you put pen to paper and intentionally build your online brand.

    Here are some of the features that I am excited to use in this planner:

    • Social media stats tracking
    • Goal setting & tracking – both monthly and weekly!
    • Social media stickers
    • Hashtag organization
    • Random holidays – things like “national doughnut day!” – cause we all need to know that!
    • Fillable dates, so you can start whenever!
    • Light and portable.

    Pre-sales for the 2020 planners start in September. I am legitimately counting down the days until this planner is available for pre-order.

    As a bonus: If you have shiny object syndrome, and aren’t sure that you’re ready to invest in a content planner, and if you’re not sure if you would use it, they offer a $9.99 digital download of 2 months so you can try before you invest in the bigger planner.

    Pens You Need for your 2020 Planners

    Oh, I couldn’t write a blog post without telling you what pens I use! That would just be sad.

    So here is a short list of pens that I always have handy:

    • Sharpie Art pens with hard case (bonus: it’s cheaper on Amazon than it is at Walmart!). I have had super good luck with these not bleeding through my paper on any of my planners.
    • PaperMate InkJoy – these do sometimes bleed through though….but I love how smoothly they write, so I sometimes just deal with it.
    • PaperMate Flair Felt tip pen – I love these. Those felt tips are pretty much perfect, and the Flair style of pens is just so great!

    And just in case you need a super cool case to hold your pens, I HIGHLY recommend this leather pen holder. It’s unique and super amazing, and I almost always have it in my purse so I am never caught without a pen!

    So there are my 2020 planners that I am considering (and really, have bought, ha!)….tell me, what is your holy grail planner? Have you picked out your 2020 planner yet? Is there one that I have missed that I must know about? Tell me more about it in the comments!

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  • My Website Got Hacked, and Here’s What I Learned

    I haven’t been posting a lot of new content on this site. My income strategy has changed a lot as I have taken on a lot of clients. After all, I create at least 10 pieces of content for my clients every week: often, more than that. That means I haven’t had a lot of time to work on my own content. When I logged into Google Search Console after vacation to do some keyword research, I was shocked to see thousands of new links logged.

    My website had been hacked.

    On July 2nd, the hacker added 1,100 or so links to my site.

    Another 2,100 links on July 6th.

    Then, on July 9th, they added more than 2,000 links.

    These weren’t the kind of links you want on your website. It was a jumble of SEO-optimized titles, and the posts were nothing more than word salad, nonsense meant to merely fill a page, not make any kind of sense.

    I was hacked, and I’m here to tell you what I learned from that experience, and share a few tips on how you can avoid being hacked too.

    How I Fixed My Hacked Website

    I know, I know – this is what you want to know!

    Here’s the quick and dirty list of how I fixed my hacked website.

    • I asked SiteGround to scan for malicious code. They told me exactly where the suspicious files were so we could nuke them.
    • Restored to an older version, pre-vacation and pre-links being added.
    • Deleted ALL old, unused plugins and themes. I cut it down RUTHLESSLY. If it was not necessary, I got rid of it.
    • Cleared all of my website’s caches.
    • Reinstalled WordPress.
    • Updated or reinstalled EVERYTHING. I mean, I contacted BluChic (the maker of my theme) to ensure I had the latest updates of all the code).

    Always Install Security on Your Website

    Apparently, I was a dum dum, and had not installed the best security. I trusted the security measures that I had set up, and thought they would be adequate.

    Security is one of those things that you never know you need it until it’s too late, and of course I learned that mine was inadequate after the fact.

    For any beginning WordPress blogger, I cannot recommend Wordfence enough (that is NOT an affiliate link – it’s just the service I used).

    I submitted a cleanup ticket, and it was taken care of within 18 hours – and that includes sleeping time! I’m blown away. I received a multi-page PDF detailing what they did, potential issues, etc. They also identified WHEN they believe the data breech happened….February sometime. Interesting.

    Wordfence also submitted my site to Google to be crawled again, and after two weeks, the drop off of the extra links on Google is finally happening.

    I would go to Google and type “site:thehollypeck.com” and see that literally 6000-8000 links would show up: most of them for spammy pharmaceuticals.

    Three weeks later, I have 600 or so links showing up, and from what I can tell, most are mine, and not 404 errors. I would not be surprised to see the number drop some more, though. I’ve had some very photo-heavy posts in the past.

    Wordfence notifies me when people attempt to log into my site, and it’s rather shocking how often someone tries to attack it. These attempts also come in rapid-fire succession, using every single username that has ever been associated with me site.

    Random pro-tip: avoid using the username “ADMIN” for your WordPress login. That’s one of the most common usernames, and is very guess-able!

    Take Action Quickly

    When you’ve been hacked, you need to take quick action.

    Unfortunately, I was on vacation when I was hacked. That meant that by the time I realized what was happening, it had been long enough for Google Search Console to pick up the links.

    (If you’ve worked with Google Search Console, then you know it has a delay in reporting – sometimes even as late as a week).

    I was horrified to see how much had happened.

    When a hacker piggybacks on your site, my experience was that they did a smaller number, to test the waters….and by smaller, I mean a thousand or so.

    Then, they added 2000, 3000 – it was crazy! The earlier you can catch it, the better.

    What Can You Do to Prevent a Hacked Website

    It’s better to be safe than sorry, right? Here are a list of things that you can do to avoid being hacked.

    • Install security on your site. I HIGHLY recommend Wordfence. I currently have their premium service, as a year of it came FREE with my site clean up. No regrets over that, and I will HAPPILY pay $99 to renew after that year is over. I’ve learned my lesson and will have my site protected.
    • Remove any unnecessary themes/plugins. If you aren’t using them, take them off your site! You can always add them back. I didn’t want to delete my old themes and plugins because I “might” use them again. Nah, if I really want them, I can get them back again later. Uninstalled.
    • Update plugins frequently. This one is slightly debated, because once in a while, there are unstable updates. But, overall, it’s best to update plugins as soon as they have an update.
    • Monitor your site via Google Search Console – because I was on vacation, I didn’t pay attention to email. That meant that I missed the email alert from Google Search Console about someone adding themselves to my property (that means they were able to upload an XML sitemap for my site, and get their links attached to my site – definitely no good!)

    Have you ever been had a hacked website? How did you recover from the hacking? What new security measures did you take?

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  • Three Ways to Effectively Manage Your Time

    Every entrepreneur knows the struggle of not having enough hours in the day. This hits hard especially in the beginning stages of business, when establishing a web presence, and creating content. The baby entrepreneur isn’t big enough to afford to hire out some of the work (YET), but is right on the cusp of greatness. Having the time to accomplish that greatness is often the biggest struggle, but can be overcome with just a bit of strategy.

    Set a Timer

    Ever feel like time has stopped when you have a giant task to do within a few hours? Find yourself madly hustling during the last five minutes of your time to work on a project?

    It’s time to capture that level of focus, and unleash it on your entire business.

    Use a timer to help you with those “five more minutes.” Need to get Pinterest graphics created? Set a timer for a set amount of time – enough to get stuff DONE, but also short enough that you won’t have a numb butt at the end. I personally set a timer for 25 minutes like this – if I can get up and run around a little every 25 or 50 minutes, I can survive the amount of time it takes to get my task done.

    At least, in the beginning, I think of it as survival.

    I quickly learn to thrive off that timer – it allows me to sit down and get stuff done with focus and intentionality, because I know that I will be accomplishing that task, and will be able to get up and do something else shortly. This is important because my list is wide and varied.

    Use Time Blocking

    Along with the above suggestion to use a timer comes with a need to know HOW to use that time. You can’t just set a timer and look at your to-do list. You’ll probably do the same thing I do:

    • Me: sets timer, pulls out to-do list
    • Determines task – create an event on Facebook for training
    • Opens Facebook
    • Sees message notification; clicks over to messenger to see if it’s important
    • Oh, it’s a quick one, I can answer that
    • Answers message. Takes longer than planned. Oops.
    • Back to the Facebook app
    • Sees ad for a training course that is in an area I need to grow in
    • Clicks ad; reads landing page
    • Takes notes on the landing page, so I can learn from what they did right
    • Scrolls through to see what other content this coach has made
    • Reads comments on a post about their training to see if it’s any good
    • Timer dings. I didn’t get anything done.

    Do you feel me there? Without a strategy, I cannot get anything done – or, I can get one or two things done, and the rest of my tasks suffer. When my tasks suffer, I don’t move forward, and I don’t make any money. I lower the return of my time investment by not focusing.

    Block Out Distractions

    If utterly possible, create a workspace for yourself. When I REALLY want to get stuff done, I have a small marble-patterned TV tray that I use. Our house isn’t big enough for me to have a dedicated workspace, and I’m ok with that – I like the mobility of my laptop at this time.

    However, when I need to GET. IT. DONE., I pull out that foldable tray. I set it up, and it’s got room for my computer, mouse, and a cup. Nothing else. Well, maybe a snack. But nothing else. Nada.

    I put my headphones on, with some instrumental music, and get my tasks accomplished.

    I’m not jumping up to take care of other things, I’m not being interrupted. It allows me to be able to actually complete the tasks that I have planned to do.

    Also – let me through it out there – I close the other windows in my browser when I do this. If you’re like me, you typically have about 8-10 tabs in your browser open. Nope. It’s time to close all of those tabs and focus. No Facebook, no Instagram, no Pinterest. Those things are lovely in their time, but they are not conducive to getting stuff done. I cannot accomplish my tasks if my attention is elsewhere.

    For those of you with jobs (like me) or with children (not like me), these uninterrupted moments are golden. They MUST be scheduled and protected.

    In college, I took a musical elective – harp. I loved that class, and each week, as part of my homework, I turned in a “practice card.” This was a log of the hours that I practiced. Instead of just going to the practice rooms where the harps were stored whenever I could, I instead scheduled my practice times. I treated it like an appointment that I could not miss. I found that the more faithful I was to that appointment, the more I came to love and crave those hours. The best part was, I got results from those hours of practice.

    It’s the same in business – when you establish disciplines, it’s hard at first. You have to treat those times as an appointment that you simply cannot miss. Write it down in your planner; hire a babysitter or do a “sitter swap” with another mom so that you can trade off uninterrupted time to work. I won’t paint a rosy picture of perfection; it takes WORK to get that habit established.

    Once you do, however, it becomes something you long for and crave.

    These are my three time management “hacks” – how do you practice effective time management to get your tasks accomplished?

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