Posts Tagged ‘social media’

5 Ways To Get Blog Topic Ideas

When I am coaching my clients on marketing their businesses online, the one thing that they voice the most frustration over is coming up with blog topic ideas. They are constantly coming up with reasons why they cannot think of any topics. I realize this is hard, and often struggle with the same problem. But blogging is VERY important. Did you know that nine out of 10 companies now sue some form of content marketing to attract leads. It is no surprise. Even Facebook’s recent algorithm changes are pushing businesses to focus on quality content.

Not only does quality content help with your social media, it helps your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), AND it establishes you as the category authority in your business or field. If you are blogging constantly, people will remember that you are the go-to person on that subject when they need to hire someone. It also establishes great relationships and builds your tribe.

But enough about why – we all know we need to do it. But what do you do when you are stuck? I recently came across a great article that highlighted eight different blog topic generators for blog post ideas. I looked through all of them and picked out my favorites below, but I encourage you to read the entire article because it was very informative and helpful.

1. HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator

HubsSpots Blog Topic Generator wants you to enter three different nouns and then it will come back to you with five different topics that will get your mind working. The best part, you can enter the same three nouns again and hit enter and will give you five more ideas if you don’t like the first round!

 

blog topic ideas

I put in networking, online and offline. Check out the topics they gave me! I will definitely be using this tool again. How easy was this?

blog topic ideas

 

 

2. Portent’s Content Idea Generator

If the thought of three words is more than you can handle, then Portent’s Content Idea Generator is for you. It DOES NOT get any more simple than this. You only have to enter one keyword and then let her rip. This one is actually a little more entertaining since it gives jokes along with the titles. I entered the word “blogging” and this is what it gave me:

blog topic ideas

As with before, if you don’t like what they first suggest, you can enter the same word again and give it another try. Don’t be afraid to try similar words.

 

3. Link Bait Title Generator

Link Bait Title Generator is not flashy at all but gives the most topic ideas in one sitting that I have seen. It gives titles and ideas that focus the gamete of informative, controversial, or just plain fun to read suggestions. I simply entered “blogging” and look what I got. My screen shot could not even fit all the suggestions!

blog topic ideas

What’s else is helpful with this tool is if you click on their logo, you will be taken to other tools that will help with the content portion like the Hashtag Finder option. This will help you find an already current and trending hashtag to put in your posts that will help with your SEO and share-ability on social media.

 

4. Buzzsumo

This is for the people that are wanting to dive in a little deeper. If you are wanting to see what your competition is doing, or what the most popular existing articles are on the topic you want to write about, you can use the Buzzsumo tool. You can enter in your topic and it will tell you what is getting the most attention: like how many Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ shares. You can also play around with the filters on the side to get more specific information on your topic. This is really helpful if what you are blogging about is in a crowded space and you want to stand out with your article. Below I am showing what I got when I entered: blogging ideas for small businesses.

blog topic ideas

 

 

5. Ubersuggest

This one will find a ton of possible keywords or phrases fro your next blog post. You simply type in your topic or some keywords that pertain to your industry and off you go! It is a free tool from the Neil Patel group. I suggest checking out their website. They also have some free tools you can use for SEO and a cool A/B testing calculator.

blog topic ideas

 

Final Thoughts On Blogging

Don’t drag your feet coming up with ideas. We are already in February! Make your blogging calendar today. It is so much easier to sit down and write about something when you know what your topic is rather that have to figure that out first before you even start the writing process. Yes, planning takes some time but you will be so happy when it is all finished and then you simply produce the article. Need help? That is why I am here! Contact me about sitting down and getting your 2018 Marketing Calendar all set during a 90 Day Plan session. We can also discuss my DONE FOR YOU Program!

How To Prepare Blog and Marketing Content For 2018

marketing content for 2018My mind has already been on 2018. What did I learn this year? What can I do better? What did my marketing efforts of 2017 actually accomplish? I ask myself, and my clients, all of these questions as I sit down to prepare what I plan to take on for my marketing content for 2018.

First step: Get your calendar ready. I prefer to keep things simple. I have a very simple spreadsheet that outlines the twelve months of the year and I brainstorm different events or anniversaries that make sense for me to comment on.  It is basically a “big picture” approach about the kind of content I feel would be relevant to my readers and clients. I take that information and formulate the various blog posts I want to write about that make sense with certain times of year. I am always open to move topics around to adjust to current events and moments in time that have events where the need for a little shuffling is in order. Always remain flexible and have the ability to capitalize on current events.

If you are not into spreadsheets or documents, another great place to organize your calendar is on Trello. I have mentioned Trello in the past. It is a FABULOUS online tool that multiple people can log onto and all of your team members can brainstorm content for the following year. This is a great one if you have a team, or if you want to share it with your business coach. **hint hint***

A lot of my clients – and other business owners – like to put their topics and ideas on their actual calendar. Having your due dates in front of you when you can glance at it and prepare for it weeks in advance allows you to prepare for it so you are not running around at the eleventh hour trying to meet a deadline.  You can either color code your online calendar, but quite often it is even very useful to do it the old fashioned way – with post its and stickers! Below is a the folks at CoSchedule who make a WordPress plugin for an editorial calendar, and they are still using sticky notes! Whatever works for you – do it!

But what does one do when they sit down to a calendar and come up with nothing but a blank piece of paper? One resource is from Authority Hacker entitled 13 Creative Ways To Find Blog Post Ideas.

Another list I will highlight my favorites from is a great resource called CopyBlogger, and their article “50 Can’t Fail Techniques for finding Great Blog Topics” but make sure you click here for a the full list.

1. Google alerts – setting an alert with some of your industry’s key words. This can give you an endless supply.

2. Riff on a popular post. Post your reaction and thoughts to a popular blogger’s thoughts and a hot topic and you can gain some power packed link benefit!

3. Try a new medium. Check out YouTube videos, podcasts, or one of MY personal favorites: watch some TV for inspiration. Shark Tank is one of my favorites!

4. Do an interview. Do you have a favorite person you like to follow online or connect with at networking groups? The answer is no unless you ask them for an interview! I am sure they won’t mind the free publicity!

5. Take an entire day off.  I love this one. Recharge your brain for a whole day by doing something you love. Go focus on your hobby and enjoy yourself. Giving your brain a break may be just what you need!

6. Do a product review. Is there something in your business you use every day that you just LOVE? Write about it and spread the love with your readers! My husband, who runs an IT company, does a great post every December on his picks for  Holiday Technology Toys as an example.

7. Recruit a guest. When all else fails, call for back up and schedule a post of someone you respect that you can feature on your blog. Make sure their content is what your readers are looking for and it makes sense with the overall feel of your blog. But don’t get lazy and rely on them every month!

Lastly, you will want to set some sort of alert and an accountability system in place so this task actually gets completed. If alarms work for you, wonderful. If you need an accountability partner to make sure it gets done, then set that up. You will be amazed how much you get done when someone else is watching!

So I want to hear from you! What is your preferred calendar method and where do you get most of your blog topics?

Using QR Codes to Market Your Business Is Now Easier

For those of you that need your memory jogged, a QR code (Quick Response Code) is a type of barcode or label that contains information about what it is attached to. QR Codes have been around since the 90’s, but have never really taken off in the United States. Up until now, it was perceived as a bit of a pain to use them since it required a third party app to scan them. Most people will not take the time to open a separate app to scan a code. I am completely guilty of this. I know, how lazy is that, right? Well now you don’t have to any more thanks to Apple.

With the release of their new iOS 11, you can now use your built-in iPhone camera app to scan a QR code, which will take you directly to where the QR code wants you to go – no more third party app required! Given how popular iPhones are, this suddenly makes the use of QR codes much more feasible for companies looking to share information with mobile phone users.

So this begs the question: will more companies now start taking advantage of the technology of the QR code? I certainly think they should! So here are some suggestions that business owners can use to utilize QR codes to market their business or products.

  1. Direct Mail Piece. It is so hard to squeeze all the info you want onto a postcard or brochure, isn’t it? Instead, you can put a fancy QR code on that piece that will give your target market all the information they need without the restrictions of space. Simply put the QR code on the postcard with a few nuggets and a call to action and you are good to go.
  2. Utilize Video. Have your QR code take them to a video on your website that is either informational or instructional. Everyone loves video and a quick “how to.” Or, if you are trying to promote a product or an event, this is the perfect way to do it. Have the QR code open to a video with you personally inviting them.
  3. Promotional items. I have seen where companies put QR codes on their promo items. Maybe consider a t-shirt or mug or something that has plenty of space to display it. Then that will take them to your website where they can learn more about you!

Not sure how to make a QR code? No problem. QR Stuff is a great resource. You can also create custom QR codes that are more eye catching and match your logo as well.

Two quick things to mention. If you are going to utilize QR codes, make sure they have an email capture form so you can get their information. They are obviously tech savvy, so you want to grab their email so you can keep in touch. Also, wherever the QR code is sending them MUST be mobile friendly. Nothing is worse than not being able to read or see the content on your mobile device. Over 90% of information consumed is on a mobile device, so make it a pleasant experience. If you need help with any of these things, don’t hesitate to ask!

So, does this new technology have you wanting to give QR codes another try? What do you think? Leave me a message in the comments!

 

Video – Why It Is Becoming The Most Effective Form of Marketing Your Business

video marketingI recently wrote several posts on how to utilize video to market your company. Already in 2017 we are seeing massive strides in the way companies are using video to market their business, as well as the platforms making changes allowing you to take your video to the next level.

Just last week, Facebook announced new ways to watch videos on Facebook that include bringing sound to the videos in the news feed as you scroll, adjustments to make the videos shot vertically look better on mobile devices, a new watch and scroll feature that allows you to keep watching the video but allowing you to keep scrolling through your feed, and a new app for watching Facebook videos on TV with the use of an Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV.

YouTube traffic expanded more than 40% since last year, and continues to have a billion users watching millions of hours every single day. The thing you have to remember is that these are not super high quality edited videos by professionals. These are quick and easy videos that people are simply using cell phones to shoot in many cases. But that is getting it done. The content is out there, you are creating a relationship by being in front of them and it is increasing your credibility.

It is also rumored that Google and Bing are both testing video incorporation into their search results – meaning your Google ad or other content will get better results if it is a video. That is awesome!

Video is really leveling the playing field when it comes to marketing your company. For a small business, video is an inexpensive and relatively quick way to get in front of your target market. It allows you to connect with your audience in ways you never could before. You can answer frequently asked questions, showcase new products, interview happy customers, demonstrate your products, the list goes on and on.

So what are some more ways you can use video to market your business?

  1. Add video to your marketing emails. Studies show it will boost your click through rate by 200-300%
  2. Embed videos on landing pages of your website. This will help boost your website’s SEO. Sixty-five percent of people will visit a website after viewing a branded video they find online or via social media channels.
  3. Start utilizing the Facebook Live video feature. Facebook gives more attention to live video and will therefore make sure it shows up in a person’s feed. For those of you using this feature already, you may have noticed a recent spike in views thanks to this change in their algorithm. Don’t forget to save it to your camera roll on your phone so you can upload it to YouTube for additional exposure.

I recently read a quote that said “To not have any kind of video support and/or strategy that lives with and/or complements your existing communications would be a fool’s errand. It’s time to learn to love video.”

I completely agree. The age of using video to market your business is definitely here and I am sure we will see a lot more this year in technological advances that will make it even more simple to do. Time to quit dragging your feet and get started.

 

 

 

 

Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part Three: Platform

using video to promote your businessIn my last two articles, we chatted about using video to promote your business. We focused on what to talk about, and the ever popular question of the equipment you need to get the job done. Now that we know what to say, and the video is recorded and ready to go, the next question naturally is:

What Platform Do I Post My Videos On?

Here is where I see a lot of people get overwhelmed. Yes, there are a lot of social media platforms to choose from. It is true that every single platform promotes the use of video to their feed, and yes, videos get more visibility and engagement. But where do you start? I am going to outline a few simple steps to get you started that will be easy to manage so you don’t get confused or frustrated and then give up – which defeats your purpose.

Your Website

Remember – all roads should lead to home. You own your website, you do not own Facebook or Twitter or any of the other ones. It is YOUR content, so make sure you are loading it onto your website. The perfect place to do this is your blog. Instead of writing a lengthy article, you can post a vlog instead! You can then create a simple email newsletter to your subscribers (something you also own) that showcases a link back to your website where they can watch the video. This also helps with your SEO, so this is a win win – and a must-do first step.

YouTube

There is no denying the most popular and most used video site on the Internet. Creating a YouTube channel is simple, and free. So why would you not have a YouTube channel? There are various ways you can upload a video to YouTube. You can either use YouTube directly – they make it super easy with a button that says “Upload”, or if you have a Mac you can use your iMovie software to upload it after you have done your editing. In the video link I included above, it also describes how to give it a proper title, descriptions, and tags to help make sure people on YouTube that are searching for what you are talking about find it. YouTube is owned by Google – so you are doing yourself a disservice if you are not uploading your content to the #1 search engine.

Facebook

It is the number one social media network out there, so that is hard to ignore. They even make it super easy for you now with their Facebook Live feature. Simply turn it on on your phone and start talking. You are then LIVE on your FB page and can even talk to your followers in real time and answer questions. If you are going this route, remember two things. First, advertise when you will be on Facebook Live so people can plan on tuning in. Second, save your video to your phone so you can then upload it to your website and YouTube. The beauty is that even when it is no longer live, FB still considers this great content to show your followers, so your content will still get a lot of attention even if it is not being seen live.

Twitter

If your followers are more the Twitter type, then you will want to be using Twitter’s video platform, Periscope. Periscope is a live streaming app owned by Twitter that allows you to share and watch live video broadcasts. You will need to download the app for this, but once you do, here is a great step by step tutorial on how to use Periscope. Remember, make sure you save your broadcast to your camera roll so you can utilize it on other platforms if you choose.

From here, the sky is the limit. You can post it to Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Vimeo, you name it. But ask yourself – where is my target market hanging out? Which platform do you have the most quality engagement? Just because these platforms exist does not mean you have to be everywhere. Be where YOUR target market is, and where they engage with you.

And here is a tip:

One GREAT place to learn where they are coming from, is to go into your Traffic Sources in your YouTube Analytics. You can learn how to do this here.

Bottom line: always post to your website, YouTube, and whatever social media channel that you are actively engaged in with your followers. You are one person, there are only so many hours in the day. So make them count.

Video is not going anywhere – so it is time to make it part of your online marketing. If you have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to contact me. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts in my comments below!

Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part Two: Equipment

using video to promote your businessLast month I got all of you thinking about using video to promote your business. We tackled the first elephant in the room – What do I even talk about in my video? Now that we have that squared away, let’s move on to the number two question that comes up:

What Equipment Do I Need To Make Videos For My Business?

This particular piece can easily get out of hand. I am not here to tell you to go out and start spending a lot of money buying equipment that could possibly scare you and therefore prevent you from following through. So let’s just start with the basics, and then move up from there.

  1. Phones/Mobile Devices: Yes, your smart phone or tablet, as most of you know, is perfectly capable of taking an excellent video. I am a Mac girl, so my experience comes from using an iPhone or an iPad. With all the latest upgrades, especially with the iPhone 7, your phone is VERY capable of taking a high quality video. Once it is on your phone, you can save it or immediately publish it to a social media platform. (We will cover this in more detail in part three.)
  2. Laptop Built In Camera – if you have a Mac, they already come with a built in “iSight Camera.” You can utilize this to record a video to your desktop which you can then publish multiple places, or to go live on Facebook or YouTube. Simple, easy, and right from the comfort of your desk chair. If you have a PC, models will vary, so check to see if you have one.
  3. Video Camera – these are the types you can buy at stores or on Amazon. My camera that I use a lot is an Everio, but you can use a multitude of cameras such as an Olympus, Sony, Panasonic or GoPro. Keep in mind you make sure whatever you buy is compatible with the video software you will need to edit your video and get it ready to publish. These cameras start out at $250 and go up from there depending on the features.
  4. Tripods – If you are using a camera or phone, I definitely recommend getting one of these. No one wants to watch a shaky video. If you are starting small – as I would recommend – you can get a tripod for your iPhone or iPad from caddiebuddy.com. If you have a separate camera, I use the AmazonBasics 60″ Lightweight. It is very versatile and comes with a bag to carry it in.
  5. Microphones – I find when using my iPhone or iPad a microphone is needed. Especially for videos that are done outside. I recommend the Lavalier Microphone. They are small, lightweight, and work with iPhones, Androids or Windows Smartphones. You simply plug it into the headphone jack and you are ready to go.
    If you are doing video from your desktop, my good friend and video guru, Lou Bortone, recommends the Blue Snowball microphone. This is mainly for recording podcasts, or another use would be live videos to YouTube or Facebook.

Do I need any special software to produce these videos now that I have taken them?

Depending on what type of computer you have, chances are you already have the software you need. In my case, I use iMovie which comes standard on every Mac. iMovie allows you to play with the sounds, adjust the brightness, add subtitles, and so on to make your video awesome. If you have a PC, Microsoft has made it difficult for their users since they no longer include Windows Movie Maker. It is possible that your computer may have come with a third party software, but there are so many varieties of movie editing software there are no standards.

I would also encourage you to check out Animoto. Especially if you own a PC. This is a monthly subscription service that is VERY versatile. You can upload pictures, videos, choose your captions, add music and really create a great video that can easily be shared to all your networks with the click of a button. They just last week rolled out new features that include voice-over controls, new customized text controls and more options to create collages and layouts. You can also do a lot of these features with iMovie for free. If you need help with that, fortunately the Apple Store has classes on iMovie that are very inexpensive, and they offer one-on-one training so you can ask as many questions as you want.

Once you become more advanced you can buy more complex video editing software, more advanced cameras, a green screen, you name it. But the reality is – most business owners don’t need all of that. You will do fine just by getting your face and voice out there on a consistent basis while providing good content relevant to your audience.

My advice? Start with your phone and a tripod of choice. From there you can choose to share it to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, or just save it in your phone and then export it to whichever video software you have on your computer.

Got questions? You can contact me here. Good luck and feel free to share your videos with me!

 

 

Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part One

using video to promote your businessIt seems using video to promote your business is all you see anymore when it comes to fresh ideas for marketing. And with good reason. Video is completely exploding. Just the new features of video inside Facebook alone can make your head swim. Video is really escalating your ability to connect with your followers and fans in ways we weren’t even thinking about as little as a year ago. But you cannot ignore the facts:

  • Videos have a 135% greater organic reach compared to photos.
  • Between April and November of 2015, the amount of daily video views on Facebook doubled from 4 billion to 8 billion.
  • Videos used in emails lead to 200 – 300% increase in click through rates
  • YouTube reports that mobile video consumption rises 100% EVERY year.
  • After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy the product they just watched about.

But enough about that. We know we need to do it, but there are several reasons holding most entrepreneurs back.

They don’t know what to talk about. They think it is hard. They think they don’t have time. They don’t know how to begin.

It is time to change that way of thinking. So I have put together a series of articles that will give you the information you need to start chipping away at this beast one step at a time. I have broken this down into three digestible parts so hopefully you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Today we are focusing on Part 1: What do I talk about in my videos?

Think of videos the same as a blog. Brainstorm relevant topics that your customers or clients want to learn more about. Every video should be educating your audience somehow on either how you can help, or giving valuable answers that will help them accomplish something, thereby painting you as the expert. Below is a list of topics to get you started:

  1. Instructional Videos
    This one is always helpful and typically the most sought after on YouTube. I know everyone reading this article has looked up a video on YouTube to learn how to do something. It is the same with what you do for a living. Show people various ways you can help them, or they can help themselves, by doing a quick instructional video.
  2. Introduce Your Staff
    The best way to get people to know, like and trust you is to get in front of them. Introductory videos to yourself and your staff will help people feel like they already know you, hence feeling like they are your friend. People like to do business with their friends.
  3. Testimonials Of Happy Customers
    EVERYONE reads the reviews on something, so why not put a review in video form? Ask one of your raving fans to let you record them giving a testimonial.
  4. New product announcements
    If your business is constantly getting in new merchandise, stop and take a quick 30 second video about the latest and greatest product available at your store! This works great for restaurants too!
  5. Question & Answer Videos
    This one is super easy. It is just you, sitting in front of the camera, answering commonly asked questions. End each of those videos by giving your viewers opportunities to contact you with more questions. This not only helps your viewers, but it really establishes you as the category authority.

My suggestions is to not jump into something that will overwhelm you. Start with doing a quick video once a week. You can either film four videos in one sitting and release them once a week, or you can make the time to sit in front of the camera weekly. Either way, you are delivering great content on a weekly basis that your followers will come to love and expect. The key here is consistency. Decide how often you will do it and stick to it. I promise – the results you will get will be worth it.

So now that a HUGE piece of what holds people back (the whole, “what do I talk about thing”) is out of the way, the next article in my series will be the next big stumbling block: equipment. I will go over simple ways to get you started – that you probably already own.

Are you feeling better about taking on video? If not, give me a shout and we will figure this out together. 

Do You Have A Business State Of The Union?

business state of the unionStarting in 2009, I took it upon myself to develop a “Business State of the Union.” Our company had been growing since its inception in 1997, and with the way technology was changing all the time I felt I needed to have everything in one place. I needed to have information available to me or to my husband if something were to happen to either one of us.  Articles have been written that touch on pieces of what was going through my mind. In fact, there was an article from the NY Daily News about having a social media will.

But it is not just about social media. Think about your entire business. The infrastructure, the access, the passwords, the chain of command. What happens to all of that if something unexpectedly happens to you?  Who has access? Where are the passwords?

Setting up your own State of the Union (SOTU) is an essential part of running your business. So let’s go through the basics of what you need to do in order to set up your own personal SOTU.

Step One: Collect all the data.

  1. Business Systems – what technology do you have in place that is a vital part to running your business? Is it a specific software or database? Who has access? Where are the passwords? Does someone else understand how it works?
  2. Social Media –  As it stands, Facebook will not give you access to your loved one’s account when they pass. They will “memorialize the account” so only confirmed friends can see and still post. Now for most people this may not be that big of a deal, but what if you have a lot of Facebook Ads tied to this account? Pictures? You cannot access this without the name and login.  There are types of legislation the will assist in certain cases, but why not avoid it altogether and have your login and password accessible to the person that will need it? This of course also applies to Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, you name it. Gather your logins and passwords to all the social media sites you frequent and list them on your SOTU.
  3. Email – Where is it hosted? What are the passwords? Do you have access to all of the machines, such as home or work laptops, phones, iPads, etc.  where you can log on to the email?
  4. Websites – Again, where is it hosted? What are the logins and passwords? How many domain names do you own, and when do they expire? Where did you register them? This is especially true if your livelihood is tied to your brand and website.
  5. Internet/Back Ups – Gather your logins and passwords to deal with our internet account. Do you know your wireless network password? Do you have a guest account with a password? Do you have a Time Capsule or other back up hard drive that is password protected? You need to know what these are!
  6. Cell Phone Accounts – Again, having access to logins, passwords, and plan information is vital. It is extremely rare that anyone has a land line any more, so you need to be able to get on the carrier’s website and adjust whatever is necessary.
  7. iCloud/iTunes – Apple is typically very helpful in retrieving someone’s music if they have passed, but if you have access to these accounts and can relieve a lot of extra work and aggravation.

I could go on and on with the list of different programs, products, services like PayPal, Amazon and various people like lawyers and insurance agents, but you get the idea.

Step 2: Where To Store It

Now that you have all of this technical data in one place, what do you do with it? First, I recommend using an encrypted system to store all of your vital passwords. We use and recommend Passpack. Passpack.com is a password management system that will allow you to manage and organize your passwords, create accounts for family members or team members, and it is all encrypted and secure.

Next, it is time to create the official SOTU: a Word document or Excel spreadsheet that lists the physical location as to where to find your important documents, such as wills, life insurance policies, bank accounts and so on, and then also include your Passpack account information. This document can be as simple or as thorough as you want it to be. Then you find a place to put it.

My husband and I have placed our SOTU onto Dropbox, which is not only accessible to us both, but makes it easy to update the information. I also have a hand written copy that I keep with the wills in a safety deposit box – just because I am anal like that.

Step 3: Update on an annual basis.

For us, that just happens to be every August. Set a date on your calendar – one that you will stick to. It only takes us less than an hour to go over any changes to passwords, business systems, bank accounts, etc. Just a small amount of time can really save you a lot of grief and struggle in the long run.

The SOTU is very personal since everyone utilizes technology and social media in different ways. Honestly – you don’t need to be a business owner to have one. Everyone should. Get your info together and then pick a person in charge.

So how many of you have a SOTU? Am I the only one? Did I get your wheels spinning? What are your thoughts?

4 Things Every Successful Entrepreneur Should Have

successful entrepreneurs

Barbara Corcoran: She is one of my mentors even though she doesn’t know it!

Recently my husband and I celebrated our 14th year in business, and I have been doing a lot of reflecting on what has made us successful entrepreneurs. During that time, I have poured myself in everything I could get my hands on from blogs, online classes, in person classes, certifications, webinars, books, networking events and just plain evolving with the times. We have definitely had our teaching moments that included some bumps and bruises along the way! So with that in mind, I would like to share some of my favorite teaching moments and tips with you in hopes that I can help a fellow entrepreneur.

Accountability Partners
This is number one for a reason. It is easy to get caught up in the day to day operations and to let some of your tasks slide. Running a business requires having a lot of balls in the air and sometimes, certain important aspects will inevitably get put on the back burner – on then to never get moved to the front burner. It is imperative that you have someone holding your feet to the fire to get all the important tasks done. Not only that, you need someone to hold you accountable for your “Next Big Thing.” In order to be successful, you have to grow. In order to grow, you need an Accountability Partner. Typically this is a business coach of some sort that is trained to help you put processes in place to grow your business, or perhaps and investor. A great book on this topic you can check out is called No More Excuses: The Five Accountabilities for Personal and Organizational Growth. Nine years ago I new I need help to grow so I called a business coach. Every successful entrepreneur has someone that is holding them accountable. If you don’t, it is time to get one. I would love to help.

Mentors
A mentor is not necessarily the same thing as an accountability partner. A mentor, however, is definitely someone you look up to, admire, and want to emulate. I find that when I get stuck in a rut or am maybe feeling a little lost that a visit to my mentor will help get me energized and re-motivated. Your mentor could be anyone. A peer in business, someone that was in your field that is not retired, a family member, a teacher or professor of some sort, or anyone that energizes and inspires you to do your best work. Could even be someone you admire from afar but watch how they run their business (a/k/a Barbara.)  Take a moment to think about who that is, and pay them a visit.

A Dream Team
In my book that I wrote for couples that work together, I refer to this as my “Board of Directors.” Entrepreneurs that are getting it done will surround themselves with people who know more than they do – and can help them in the areas where they are lacking. Some suggestions are your technology guy (because there is no successful business without successful and seamless technology), your banker, your accountant and your lawyer. It should also include someone who has knowledge that can help your business specifically depending on your trade. Then at least once a year minimum, get these people together for a board meeting and let them know how you are doing and what you need help to do next. Have them brainstorm with you. Don’t assume if your business is small that you can’t act like a larger business. These people are here to help you grow. So let them.

A State Of The Union
This one is a topic that no one ever likes to talk about. But the reality is, you will not be here forever and someone needs to know how to get to the important documents, passwords and processes that run your business. Put all of this information into a document or system that someone can have access to. That’s right: every password, every login, every program you use should be documented somewhere so the person you trust does not have to jump through hoops to help deal with the day to day of your business. This is here for your protection, as well as your family. If you are in an accident and are going to be out of the loop for a while, you will want someone to be able to be YOU. If this person is not your spouse, then it should be someone who is there that you can trust. Sit them down once a year and go over your “state of the union.” Make sure they have access to everything. Trust me, you do not want to wait on companies like Google or Facebook to release information when time is of the essence. Plan ahead.

I never dreamed I would be an entrepreneur, and quite honestly went kicking and screaming along the way. But through my many stubborn years of learning the hard way, I managed to pick up these plus many more golden nuggets that have contributed to my husband’s and my success. And now I cannot imagine my life any other way. But I want to hear from YOU. What are some habits that you feel have made you successful as an entrepreneur? Share them in the comments below!

Website Advice – For Real

website adviceI really struggled with the topic of website advice as we sit here in 2016. I pretty much figured everyone was well versed on this topic. I mean, there are a million articles about this already and multiple sources you can utilize, right? But – I was wrong. Just in the last two weeks alone, my company has encountered every single issue I am about to address with a client or prospective client – so I thought it would be a good idea to cover some basics as well as some things that were not so basic. Let’s face it: websites, like all of technology, continue to evolve. We must evolve with it to stay caught up. So below are the top five issues we are seeing currently:

  1. YES – you still need a website. A prospective client reached out to me with this question last week. She wanted to know if a website was even necessary now since she could load everything on Facebook and get started for free. Let me very clear on this point: YES – you need a website. You DO NOT own Facebook. You can be shut down at any time based on the opinion or some sort of red flag at FB that will shut you down immediately. Even the famous Social Media Examiner was shut down by FB. Thankfully, it was only temporary in their case – but I am sure the reason it came back up so quickly had to do with the fact tons of FB powerhouses are involved in that entity. Needless to say, they carry a lot of weight to get the attention of someone to turn their page back on. Do you? Think about it – if you based your entire operation on FB and then one day they shut you down, what would you do? You should use FB as a tool to lead people to your website. Plain and simple.
  2. KNOW your passwords.  A lot of business owners hire someone to get their website all set up and blindly give permission and freedom to register their domain, set up their site, maintain it. However, once it is all set up, a lot of business owners have no idea how to log in to a system that controls their entire livelihood. You need to know your passwords and how to get into the basic framework that controls your website. YOU need to have control. In the early days, this was much more difficult since websites were basically a bunch of files filled with cryptic code. But no more. Today, it is very easy to have a site that looks complex, but is as simple to log into and change as a Word document. If your web site isn’t simple to manage, it is time you upgrade your site.
  3. CONTROL your domain name.  This is re-emphasizing the second point. As long as you have control of the account where your domain name is registered, you can fix most other things down the line. Time and again, my husband’s company gets calls from people in a panic that have no idea who is in control of their domain name, or when it is due to renew, or who to contact if they have questions. This is the very beginning, the basic piece, of everything you are creating online. Again, know your passwords, know when your domain name is due to renew. If you lose your domain name, it could lead to catastrophic results.
  4. BACKUP your website. Your website is essentially no different that any other precious data out there. Don’t assume just because it is on the Internet means it is backed up – it’s NOT! The company that is hosting/creating your site should be talking to you about backing up your site. However, we have run into several situations where this was not the case. Data was not backed up – and data was lost. In a case we encountered recently – six years worth of data. That is not only heartbreaking, but catastrophic to a business. So make sure your website is being backed up.
  5. MAKE IT MOBILE FRIENDLY. If you have not updated your site in the last three to four years, chances are your site is not mobile friendly. Recently, Google made it known to everyone that they were giving preferential treatment to mobile friendly sites. Research shows that the VAST majority of people check their email and social media accounts via their smartphone, so it goes without saying that your site needs to be prepared for your mobile visitors. Think about you and your friends: you are out at a restaurant and start talking about something you want to look up. Are you going to waste your time on a site that is not mobile friendly and hard to read? No. You will move on to the next site that will give you the information you are looking for. So make sure your site is up to date AND definitely mobile friendly.

Websites continue to be what I call the “mother ship.” All points of your marketing should be leading to home – your website. Your website is your little corner of the Internet world. You have complete control of all things happening on your website – or at least you SHOULD. Make sure you have the ability to collect emails, answer questions, tell your story, interact, and most importantly educate your customers on why they should be doing business with you. Email marketing, social media, direct mail – everything you do should lead back to the mother ship where you have control. Websites are DEFINITELY not going away. So the real question is – how much do you know about your website?

If you don’t know, it is time to call for help.