As a retailer, it can be challenging to stay up-to-date on the latest business trends and tools. Check out these online resources—from podcasts to blogs—that are treasure troves of free information for those who are willing to dig a bit deeper.
It’s a common challenge among independent sellers: you’re so focused on the daily hustle that the status quo becomes the standard. From buying and merchandising to administrative tasks, keeping up on the news and industry trends that can take your business forward isn’t always easy — especially during the holidays!
To help you out, we’ve curated some of the best free online resources for retailers to ensure you’re always on top of your game and ahead of the competition. Take notes and bookmark your favorite podcasts and websites. Let’s do this.
Are you an online seller? Our Retail Education Series at ASD Market Week gives sellers first-hand access to the top industry experts and thought leaders. Registration is now open! Reserve your free ticket here.
Raise your hand if you’re too busy to read books or magazines. Enter: podcasts. Have you listened to one yet? There’s no excuse for “not having enough time,” as podcasts are the perfect listening material for multitaskers, especially while commuting or exercising.
Here are some of our favorites for business and lifestyle inspiration: turn up the sound and have a listen!
Amy Porterfield is an entrepreneur, social media strategist and online marketer, who went from Director of Content Development for Tony Robbins to independent consultant. Between podcasts, Porterfield created a training program called Jump Start Your Facebook Marketing, and hosts results-driven webinars geared towards small business owners about everything from search engine optimization (SEO) tips to fueling your business with content.
The bestselling author of The 4-Hour Workweek tackles tools and tricks for listeners to be productive while still enjoying work-life balance. Find out why The New York Times calls him “a cross between Jack Welch and a Buddhist monk.”
Internet personality and social media guru Gary Vaynerchuk has several bestselling books under his belt — Jab, Jab, Jab, Right-Hook and #AskGaryVee are must-reads for anyone who wants to expand their social media knowledge — and has become known for his hustle (one of his mantras is “crushing it”). He also preaches about social media marketing and branding techniques on his YouTube channel, but if you’re planning on listening while multitasking, then his podcast is likely your best bet. He’s brash, assertive, and will inspire you to focus on your work with passion.
The title kind of says it all, doesn’t it? This award-winning podcast’s mission goes like this: “Where it’s all about working hard now so you can sit back and reap the benefits later.”
Its host, Pat Flynn, was a professional architect who lost his job as a result of the economic downturn in 2008. He refers to losing his job as the best thing that ever happened to him: it led him to start a “passive income” online business, which has since spawned two bestselling books (Let Go and Will It Fly) and this podcast.
What exactly is passive income? “Passive income is money, made by your business, that does not require a lot of ongoing, manual effort from you.”
As an entrepreneur, it can be challenging to break away from your work — it is indeed a 25-hour job! Note to Self is “a tech show about being human.” It focuses on the effects of technology on our lives and the quest to adopt smarter choices that will help you think and live better. It might even inspire you to pause throughout your busy day and enjoy 5 minutes of mindfulness; a small break can have huge results on the rest of your day.
Thought Leaders & Marketing Experts
Simon Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
The author of Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action and Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t, Sinek gained notoriety thanks to his TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action. It has gone on to become number three on the list of the “20 most popular TED Talks of all time.”
Sinek will get you thinking about your business’s “why,” which should be the driving force that informs your marketing plan, your social media strategy, and what you communicate to customers. Your “why” also becomes your brand’s added value and differentiating factor in a marketplace filled with competition. Once you know what that is — and it’s critical to take the time to figure it out — make sure it’s clearly communicated in everything you do.
Seth Godin: “’The person who fails the most wins.”
Entire articles can be dedicated to the genius that is Seth Godin. The author of Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us and Linchpin: Are You Indispensable?, Godin focuses on topics like art, originality, and being passionate about your work.
One of our favorites of his soundbites: “Instead of wondering when your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from.”
Jasmine Star: “I believe entrepreneurs owe themselves the chance to try to pursue their curiosity.”
We first discovered Jasmine Star when she was a guest on the Online Marketing Made Easy with Amy Porterfield podcast. Jasmine Star is the perfect example of a gutsy entrepreneur; she walked away from a law scholarship at UCLA to pursue her passion for photography. After making a name for herself as a top wedding photographer, she pivoted yet again, this time to become a branding and social media strategist.
Follow and subscribe to Jasmine Star’s blog, which features free marketing and social media tips. Star also offers up a free social media ebook and the opportunity to sign up for free business growth tips in her newsletter. To get the latest news on her webinars, follow Star on Instagram and Facebook as well.
Bonus: Look out for Jasmine Star’s Facebook Live sessions, where she gives free *priceless* advice.
Vendor Platform Blogs
Between Shopify and Vend, are you using the rich resource section of your e-commerce platform? The articles here are ripe for the taking! Make sure you take the time to check out these blogs on the regular, as they feature case studies, inspiring retail stories and great tips.
The Good Life Project is a global community of artists, entrepreneurs, full-time parents, C-suite executives, and everything in between. GLP hosts programs and events, to help members find inspiration in conversations and ideas. Here’s how GLP describes itself: “It’s a quest to incite possibility and inspire people to craft more vital, connected, engaged and meaningful lives. It’s a mission-driven venture that produces media, programs and events that help people live better lives.” GLP has also spawned a book called How to Live A Good Life: Soulful Stories, Surprising Science, and Practical Wisdom, a podcast, and more.
Speaking of communities and movements, Create & Cultivate is a platform for women looking to create and cultivate the career of their dreams. In addition to the conferences it hosts at least twice a year, Create & Cultivate boasts a rich blog on its website, with inspiring and tactical advice for female entrepreneurs and small business owners.
The visual social media platform is more than a tool for bookmarking recipes and DIY projects. Pinterest offers a wealth of information, with resources and articles about social media, entrepreneurship, time management, content strategies, SEO, and more. Use the search tool to browse and remember to “pin” the articles you want to save for future reading as well.
From Ted Talks to Facebook Live sessions, keep eyes peeled and your ears tuned to the free resources that offer invaluable advice. Print out the tips that resonate with you most, and bookmark your favorite sites for easy reference. Remember: stay curious!