Here we are – in the middle of a pandemic, and everyone is on edge. We are surrounded by people being laid off, losing jobs, losing income and almost about to lose their minds. But you have to still have a business to run. And you still have to make money. Obviously, some distractions are harder to overcome than others, such as those of you who have also become your child’s teacher. The fact of the matter is now you have to adjust to what will become your new normal for a while. How long this will be for is hard to say. In the spirit of “quaran-teaming”, I have come up with a list of tips that are helping me, as well as my clients, stay focused. I hope you find these helpful for your business as well.
1. Adjust Your Schedule
For most of you, working hours have already taken on a new meaning, but now that we are all forced into working from home, it is imperative that your working hours be flexible. We are dealing with people who have kids at home, or having to connect with people from different time zones. Not everything is going to work as it did before. The important thing is to access who needs your attention and when, then adjust your schedule accordingly.
This may mean you get up earlier in the day and work a few hours, take breaks for the kids, and then work some more. Maybe you work in the morning and the evening, but take the afternoon off. There are more hours in the day than just 9-5, so use them!
2. Make A To-Do List
I am a HUGE fan of lists. Lists help me stay focused on my tasks. They help me remember every detail. They hold me accountable to the things I know I HAVE to get done. There is something about seeing it on the list that really motivates me to get it done so I can do the best part: CROSSING IT OFF! I know we have a lot of ways to keep lists, but there is something so empowering about physically crossing off an item on your list. I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I do it. It also serves as a reward! A way to do this online is to use Trello. Big fan of this one too.
3. Take A Look At Your Technology
So you want to take a break but you are still waiting on that ever important email. With all of the technology available to us today, you can make your office mobile any time you wish. But you have to have the right technology in place to do it. Take a look at your smart phone, is it up to the task? If not, now would be a great time to upgrade.
How are you saving your documents? Do you utilize cloud based services like Dropbox to access your documents from anywhere? Cloud based systems are often free or low cost so you don’t have to be beholden to your desktop or laptop. Just access them from your smart phone or iPad and move on.
Zoom is offering a lot of their services free right now, so make sure you check them out. Video conferencing is obviously the next best thing to being there in person!
4. Take A Class
Sometimes, a little knowledge will go a long way. I find that taking an online class or webinar that will teach me something renews my goals and helps me focus on my vision. Clients definitely will be thrilled that you are staying current with your craft. Knowledge is power. Take advantage of the time and sign up for a class and learn something new. It will motivate you to stay on target, and who knows? Whatever it is you learn will help you make additions to your current offerings which equals more money! Who wouldn’t want to make more money?
5. Get Over Your Fear Of Video
Video is the next best thing to being there in person. Even though you are stuck in your home for the unforeseeable future, you can still reach your clients and possible new customers with the power of video. Start simple with something like Facebook Live. You can also use Instagram, YouTube, or whatever platform you feel comfortable on. Video accounts for the highest amount of engagement on social media. It is time to lose the fear. Everyone is connecting from their homes. This is the most opportune time to connect – people will be delighted to see your face because they miss you – and they miss interaction. They will be more likely to listen to what you have to say. It is time to drop the inhibition and go for it. If you have more questions, I invite you to read through my blog – I have lots of tips there. You can also reach out to me directly.
6. Get An Accountability Partner
I have talked about this many times, but it is especially important when you have extra distractions going on. You can adjust your schedule, make to-do lists, examine technology and take classes all you want – if you actually DO THEM. Big ideas are great – but the success lies in the EXECUTION. An accountability partner makes sure you stick to your goals and helps you to have skin in the game. I have one – you should too. I would be happy to help you as well.
I would love to hear some of your tips. What is keeping you motivated during this quarantine? What helps you stay on task so you can take some time off and enjoy the weather? Post your thoughts in the comments below!
Entrepreneurs are often tasked to running the ship alone until they get things moving. As a business coach and marketing consultant, I am often in the position of wearing many hats! But as business grows and time becomes scarce, it becomes necessary to delegate out things you once had time for, but now seem to be putting on the back burner due to time constraints, or find helpful online programs to help you work faster. Something that gets the job done without you needing to reinvent the wheel.
I am here to tell you, DELEGATE is not a dirty word! There are so many things to get done, and fortunately we live in a world where you can find quality freelancers or programs that will help you get the job done efficiently so you can focus on your clients. Below is a list of online services I recommend to my fellow small business owners!
- PicMonkey and/or Canva: These services are a quick way to create a graphic for all of your social media platforms, or even something you want to create to physically mail to someone. They have templates set up for just about any occasion or event, and both services will store them in a library so you can re-visit and edit them. Easy to use and with a ton of tutorials, you can create a quick graphic for just about anything. (Side note: Don’t skimp on a quality graphic designer when it comes to your logo though!)
- Rev.com – I was recently introduced to this service. It is a transcription service that will take your video or audio file and turn it into text, thereby allowing you to use that content to also have a blog post or document for whatever you need! They are FAST and very accurate. My experience has only been minor edits. Video content is so important, but you should always re-purpose good content. A blog post is a perfect start and this eliminates a lot of the work involved! Check it out!
- Trello – this is a great online tool that helps you organize content of any kind. Brainstorming, to-do lists, you name it. Whatever you want to share and collaborate with others that is accessible online and has a great mobile app as well. I use it for to-do lists that are shared, as well as sharing flow charts and ideas. You can create teams, projects specific boards for certain people to share, the list goes on and on.
- Hootsuite – I know, this one has been around a while, but it recently has really stepped up its game to include Instagram and make the ability to share on multiple platforms even easier. The user interface has really grown leaps and bounds, so if you have checked out a while, make sure you give it another look.
- HubsSpots Blog Topic Generator. This is a great tool if you have NO CLUE what to write your blog about! It simply 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. Blogging is important, and it is easy to get stuck on a topic, but not with this tool!
- Ripl.com – what a fun app you can use to create videos on your mobile device. But did you know there is also a desktop version? Perfect opportunity to create fun and quick videos you can share anywhere even if all your content is on your desktop! They will brand them any way you like and then you share them with the world!
This is just the tip of the iceberg on the programs and services you can use to help run your business, but still keep the costs down. It is so easy to get stuck in a rut doing the same thing, I highly encourage you take the time to learn how to work smarter, not harder, so you can make your time more efficient, thereby giving you the opportunity to make more money!
So tell me – what is a favorite service of yours that you use to help run your business? Post in the comments below!
Starting in 2009, I took it upon myself to develop a Business State of the Union. My company had been growing since its inception in 2008, 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 someone I trusted in case something were to happen to me. Articles have been written that touch on pieces of what was going through my mind. In fact, there was an article from the The Atlantic 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. I am on my 10th year of doing so, and remind everyone annually at this time. 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.
- 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? A common one that comes to mind is Quickbooks. But this can also include any type of industry software that helps you run your business.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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. You also need to know that Hulu and Netflix accounts cannot be changed. If those accounts are set up under you, a new account will need to be created.
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. I 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.
Last year I even placed everything “in order of importance” to the best of my ability, just to make it easier on my executor. I have placed my SOTU onto Dropbox, which is not only accessible to me and my executor, but makes it easy to update the information. I also have a printed 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 me, that just happens to be every July or August. Set a date on your calendar – one that you will stick to. It only takes me 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. I make all of my Accountability Program clients do this.
So consider this your annual reminder! How many of you have a SOTU? Am I the only one? Did I get your wheels spinning? What are your thoughts?
Having run many video campaigns for clients, and also speaking on the topic of video frequently, the most common question that is asked ever since video became popular was, “How long should my video be?”
You are going to hate this, but the answer is: IT DEPENDS.
Before you go getting mad at me, there is a reason that I say this. It depends on several factors.
- What are you using it for?
- What platform are you posting it on?
- What are you wanting the end result to be?
Since we live in a world where it is almost impossible to keep people’s attention, obviously the shorter the better. The best thing to do is analyze what your video is for, what platform are you going to publish it on, and how you want your audience to engage with you.
What are you using it for? I typically tell my clients that we want to aim for keeping it no more than 2 minutes. However, some videos may need more time based on what you are talking about. For example if you are doing a demonstration, (remember all those cooking videos from Tasty?), it may take longer than two minutes. Perhaps you are running a class, those videos will definitely be longer than two minutes. If your audience is interested in the topic, and you are engaging from the very beginning, they will stay tuned for the entire video.
Now let’s talk platform. In 2018 Hubspot analyzed thousands of videos from different social media platforms and this is what they found:
- Instagram: 30 seconds
- Twitter: 45 Seconds
- Facebook: 1 minute
- YouTube: 2 minutes
This means you may have to film one particular topic several different ways if you are planning on posting it on multiple platforms. But that extra effort is worth it in order to fully cater to your audience and their ever withering attention spans.
What is the end game? Obviously, it should have some sort of call to action. A clear next step of what you want your audience to do. Do you need to add graphics for this? If so, that may take more time. So again, it depends what the end game is as well.
In short, my mentor and video guru, Lou Bortone, says:
Ultimately, your video should never be any longer than it has to be! Keep it tight and respect your viewer’s time. Shorter is almost always better.
Exactly. Well said Lou. Everyone wants it yesterday, so do your best to make it as short as possible while still accomplishing your goals.
Two weeks ago, the unthinkable happened to business owners: Facebook and Instagram went down for several hours. Everyone was scrambling. Building your following on Facebook or Instagram, or any private company’s site, can be a double-edged sword if their system goes down. Now don’t get me wrong, these platforms are the most widely used and you should DEFINITELY keep using them, but what I am saying is don’t put all your eggs in one basket. All business owners need to consider multiple avenues of marketing other than social media. I have put together a list of several that are still useful and should be included in your marketing repertoire no matter what.
You cannot ignore how valuable it still is to have someone’s email address. Compiling a quality list of current emails is pure gold that you have access to whenever you want, which is priceless. You can set up drip campaigns, send thank you emails, special announcements, congratulatory emails, share testimonials, the list goes on and on. It is also an opportunity to showcase some of your best work. Share video tutorials or perhaps some podcast interviews you have done recently. Note: make sure you are optimizing for mobile devices. Fifty percent of all emails are now opened on a phone, so you want to make sure it opens quickly and is easy to read and follow through on whatever call to action you attach to it.
We are starting to see more and more companies utilize the power of a text. It may take people a few days to check and follow up on email, but let’s face it – we are always checking on whatever text has just come in. This is not a service reserved for just big box stores or larger chains. Small business have the same opportunities to utilize this service at very affordable rates. It is always permission based, so you know people are interested, and the message can lead the receiver anywhere you want them to go, allowing you the opportunity to gather more information in addition to making a sale. Better yet – it applies to all ages since everyone texts. Definitely worth checking out.
When I reference snail mail, what I am specifically referring to are cards. HAND WRITTEN cards. I know there are services out there that do it automatically for birthdays, anniversaries, etc., but what I am referring to are “just checking in” cards. How hard is it to pick out two people a week to just say, “Hey, haven’t talked to you in a while and wanted to know what was new.” Who doesn’t love getting a hand written card in the mail? It is not expensive to have some with your logo printed up. I recommend GotPrint.com. They are very affordable and high quality. Just think of the smile on their face when they see you have thought of them. You never know what it could spark.
And of course, nothing beats face to face check-ins. Networking has always been and will always be my favorite form of keeping in touch. The key to great networking really comes down to one thing: consistency. You have to keep putting yourself out there. Consistently showing up proves to people you are a dedicated business owner, allows you to meet new people on a regular basis, and establishes a great reputation for your company. Stay informed of the local Chamber of Commerce events, Meet Ups, and also do a quick scan of local events on EventBrite. If you join an organization, make sure you can actually attend a majority of their events, otherwise it is a waste of time and money. It should also go without saying – but be prepared. Have plenty of business cards so people know how to get a hold of you after the event.
Marketing is a task that needs to be handled every single day you are running your business. We are lucky we live in a world where that can typically – and effectively – be done online primarily, but what happened a couple weeks ago is a good reminder to have a few other forms of promotion already going on so you are still out there getting the job done no matter what happens in cyber space!
It is safe to say that 2018 was quite the year for everyone. Whether you are focusing on politics, pop culture, the economy or simply your own life, I am sure if you take the time to take a look back at your calendar or some of your emails you could refresh your memory on some major events and life lessons that help to make you who you are today. For entrepreneurs, this is a very important task. If we are not learning – we are not growing. We must do what makes us uncomfortable in order to grow and thrive in our business. So I did just that. I took a look at my emails, and my social media posts and here are some great reminders – that I often say to myself – that I think everyone should say to themselves as they embark on the New Year.
Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. — Abraham Lincoln
This is so true. All too often we get caught in a routine or the new normal. We are stuck in a rut of just doing what is on the schedule and and we lose sight of a goal or a dream. A lot of people have ideas or vision – but not nearly as many actually take the time to get out there and find out what it takes to accomplish that vision. My advice? Time will pass regardless, so why wait on achieving your vision? Right them down your goals and post them in your office. Start at the end and work your way backwards. Get help. Ask questions. Study those who have done something similar. Hustle means, well HUSTLE.
Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it. – Dr. Laura Schlessinger
I think a lot of entrepreneurs are guilty of this one, including myself. I know it is easy to become gun shy when you mess up. All of the sudden that is the only thing you can focus on and then you spend all of your time focusing on how not to do THAT again. I am here to tell you – don’t waste your time with that. Mistakes are an important part of learning. It is just as important to learn what NOT to do as it is what TO do. When you start to focus on the negative, all you are doing is putting the energy out there that will attract more negativity. Mistakes are simply part of life. Don’t let them hold you back.
A strong spirit transcends rules. — Prince OR Either I will find a way or I’ll make one. — Philip Sidney
This one is one of my favorites. I have built my entire company on finding a way. When I first started helping people with social media, very few businesses were using it to promote their companies. I had to make up processes to manage it all as I went along. I was literally learning as I went. Think about how far these platforms have come in the last ten years and you can understand why I was flying by the seat of my pants most of the time. I had to learn as I went, come up with programs and packages based on what my clients needed, and find a way to make money at it. Was it scary? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. I have written about this before: the answer is always yes, and then you find a way.
Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow. – Carrie Fisher
Courage and confidence does not mean there is an absence of fear, but rather there is something more important than the fear. Heard that somewhere, but it is very true. My coach Michael Port always said “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” A little fear never hurt anyone, and I am certain that many successful people still operate with an element of fear. But this quote could not be any more poignant. Just do it. Confidence will follow or possibly a mistake – but you will learn and grow.
You can reach your goals a hell of a lot faster when you have help. — Lou Bortone
Love this one from my friend Lou. And he is so right. I, myself, was once afraid to ask questions. I was scared to reach out for help. Once I signed up with my first coach, all of that disappeared. If you are waiting to ask someone for help – then STOP IT. Not one person on this earth can possibly know everything, but for some reason I continually see entrepreneurs trying to do everything themselves. INVEST IN YOURSELF. Invest in your education. Whatever it is you need help with, then go get it. Maybe it is mapping out the steps to your next big thing. Maybe you just need some motivation or a slap across the face. Whatever it is – just do it. This is exactly why I created my Accountability Program. Contact me to learn more. Even if it is not me – just contact someone.
The key to success is learning how to monetize what you had to learn the hard way. — Danelle Brown
Every entrepreneur I know has to learn something the hard way. There is no definitive map to success. It is full of twists and turns that you have to overcome and learn from. Whether it is figuring out how to launch a new product to the masses, writing a book, coming up with a new program, or simply paving the way on something that does not exist yet – if you have the knowledge, then figure out a way to package it and sell it to people that want to do the same thing. Life is full of mentors who went on to teach others how to do what they had to struggle to learn. You could be next.
I could go on and on with inspiring quotes, but I believe you get the idea. 2019 needs to be a game changer for you. I am excited for all of us. So share with me and my readers – what is the next big thing for you? Post it in the comments and let’s all cheer each other on.
I recently wrote several posts on how to utilize video to market your company. Every year – heck every month – 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.
Facebook Live videos continue to be a game changer, that include adjustments to make the videos shot vertically look better on mobile devices, the 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. Instagram TV is now becoming a game changer as well.
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?
- Add video to your marketing emails. Studies show it will boost your click through rate by 200-300%
- 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.
- 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.
- Answer emails with a video message. I recently tried this out to a prospective client. I had left phone calls and emails to schedule a meeting and heard nothing. Then I recorded a video and sent that back to their email. They called me back!
Video is the next best thing to being there in person. If you can show up in the flesh, do it on video. It makes a bigger impact than just an email or a text. I am currently in the middle of “post a video a day for the whole month of August” challenge. It is definitely challenging, and although I have missed a couple of days here and there, for the most part I am getting it done. It has been a huge success. I am hearing more from people now than I have all summer long. It is amazing what the power of your face can do!
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. Using video to market your business is definitely not going away 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.
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!
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?
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:
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
My 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?
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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!
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!