April 2018

GDPR Compliance for Online Entrepreneurs

April 10th, 2018|Online Marketing for Coaches & Consultants, Video Interviews|

You can’t help but notice it: there’s a tinge of panic in the air among online entrepreneurs. The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will be enforced starting 25 May 2018 and compliance is imperative to avoid possible fines.

But how can you be sure your list-building tools are compliant? And how does the GDPR affect online entrepreneurs doing business outside the EU?

Thankfully, I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Jackie Mallia, a specialist in data protection law. In this interview, she helps us simplify what GDPR compliance means, in terms of how we collect emails and market our services online.

GDPR Compliance for Online Entrepreneurs Based Outside the EU

Dr. Mallia made it clear: GDPR goes far beyond the EU. Anyone with a website that collects data from someone located in the EU is subject to this regulation. That includes everything from collecting an email address to tracking their activity on your website.

“…it doesn’t even have to be EU citizens, they just have to be in the EU at that point in time. If they’re in Italy and they’re browsing your website, you are basically subject to this regulation.”

In other words, pretty much every website in the world is subject to this regulation if it’s accessible in the EU.

So how can we make sure we’re compliant?…

How to Ensure GDPR Compliance for Online Entrepreneurs

The key to compliance with GDPR is having a proper privacy policy in place that you can share with your consumers in a privacy notice. If you are collecting any information at all from anyone browsing your website, you need to disclose it in a way that’s easy to understand.

“Explain what data you collect (i.e. if you track their activity on your site). Provide different categories of monitoring: behaviour on the website, opening an account with you, tracking marketing, etc. Provide what cookies and scripts are used.

You need to explain what the data is used for… giving the consumer more targeted information based on website behavior.”

You need to explain what data you collect, why you collect it, how you store it and how you use it. Complete transparency. Additionally, you’ll need to provide the consumer with the option to gain access to the data you’ve collected.

This can be done by providing the contact information of your “data controller” or whoever is in charge of handling data and privacy in your business.If you’re the only person in your business you just need to make sure that the tool you use allows you to export this information and forward it by email.

GDPR Compliance and Email Opt-Ins

When it comes down to it, you need proof that everyone on your list opted-in through a method compliant with GDPR. A lot of tools are currently updating their tools to comply with this so double check the tool you’re using and you should be alright.

Here’s where things can get a bit tricky: If you have an email list full of people who opted-in before you were GDPR compliant, then it’s important that you “refresh their consent”. In other words, that actually means getting in touch again with those people on your database and saying, ‘Look, there’s this new law. It requires that we are letting you know exactly what happens with our information. Please look at our privacy policy for the information that you need. If you need more information, please feel free to ask us. And if you don’t actually tick this box, we will not send you any more information.’”

This may sound daunting, but in the end, it can actually help to weed out anyone on your list who doesn’t truly want to be there and give you a list full of highly responsive, engaged individuals.

Refreshing consent is also a must if any information on your list has been acquired or purchased from another company or individual.

Changing from one email service to another? It’s time to refresh that consent too. When you switch services you lose your proof of compliant opt-ins, so you need to be sure you can create that proof within your new email service.

Many email services provide tools that are GDPR compliant, so be sure to seek them out if you’re looking to switch. This will keep things simple and easy for you going forward.

GDPR Compliance for Online Entrepreneurs

How to Handle Opt-Ins and Online Incentives

If you encourage your visitors to opt-in by offering a “freebie” or a discount, that should be fine, but you need to be very clear about that opting-in for a freebie also means opting-in for a newsletter or any other communication. If your past freebies didn’t mention a newsletter subscription or didn’t have a separate box to check to subscribe to your list, it’s time to (you guessed it) refresh their consent.

Another important point to keep in mind is that whatever you offer as an incentive cannot be taken back if they choose to opt-out later. Whatever you’ve offered as an incentive, you need to continue to provide even if they have withdrawn their consent to be emailed at a later stage.

One thing you cannot do is ‘force’ a consumer to opt-in before gaining access to your products or services. For example, if you sell tickets on your website you cannot tell the consumer that they have to opt-in before buying a ticket. But you can offer a discount on those tickets for opting in.

Compliance When Merging Lists from Online Events

After running a webinar or online event, many of us take the information collected for that event and add it to the main list.

However, when accepting opt-ins for anything other than your main list, it is extremely important to be completely transparent about how you will use the email address provided, what info you will send and how often.

When you create a sign-up box for example for an upcoming webinar, you need to use those details only to send the info required to log in to this webinar. If you also want to add this user to your list to send additional information you need to add an extra tick box that says something like… “please tick this box to receive our weekly blog posts.”

It’s acceptable to send your attendees information similar to what they showed interest in, but the option to unsubscribe must be clear and easy to execute at any time. The official regulation is that opting-out must be as easy as opting-in.

Think Like a Consumer

When it comes down to it, it’s all very logical. If there’s ever any question about what is GDPR compliant, staying in the mindset of what you would like to receive as a consumer and what you’d like to be done with your data usually gets you to the right answer.

Having clear and accessible privacy policies will keep you compliant, but it’s also just good business. Keeping your consumer informed and their information safe should always be a priority. Hopefully, this interview helped give you a clear picture of what that looks like within the GDPR.

If you are working toward compliance and need help during any part of the process, be sure to follow/contact Dr. Jackie Mallia here 

DISCLAIMER:
This information course is not intended to provide or indeed be an alternative to case-specific Legal or Technical advice.

If you are working toward compliance and need help during any part of the process, be sure to contact Dr. Jackie Mallia, here.

September 2017

The Only 4 Tools You Need to Write and Edit High Quality Blog Posts

September 13th, 2017|Online Marketing for Coaches & Consultants, The Web Solopreneur|

There is no short-cut to improve your writing. Every writer and every blog are different.

There is no one-size-fits-all-solution. But there are tools that help anyone do a better job of writing blog posts.

You can easily write better posts, even if English is not your first language.

Use these 4 tools and you will never need to hire a professional editor.

 

  1. Grammarly

This tool is a must-have if you’re not a native English speaker. It’s a writing gem and the free version will cover all your needs. Grammarly is an online grammar and spell checker that improves your blog-writing by helping you find and correct mistakes. It flags issues as you write and will install itself in your computer correcting everything from your emails to your Facebook posts. No more scurrying to correct a typo you noticed only after clicking publish.

Grammarly is an online grammar and spell checker that improves your blog-writing by helping you find and correct mistakes. It flags issues as you write and will install itself on your computer correcting everything from your emails to your Facebook statuses. You will never forget to check your grammar again. And no more scurrying to correct a typo you noticed only after clicking publish.

Write Better Blog Posts

Write good blog posts

www.grammarly.com

 

2. Evernote Across Devices

Evernote is a great app because it allows you to take notes and access them across all devices; laptop, tablet, and mobile. This means that you have a note taking app that seamlessly combines all your devices’ note taking together. I can hear you say … Yeah there a million apps out there that allow you to do this. However, there is a little feature in Evernote which to a blogger is pure gold. When you’re browsing the internet and come across a post or picture that ensures you, you can save it to your Evernote so you refer to it when you’re writing.

Write Better Blog Posts

However, there is a little feature in Evernote which to a blogger is pure gold. When you’re browsing the internet and come across a post or picture that ensures you can save it to your Evernote so you refer to it when you’re writing.

This feature saves me a lot of time. A quick writer-friend survey confirmed my hunch that writers read a lot, this tools will make sure that none of those gold nuggets you stumble across while waiting in the queue at the supermarket get lost when it’s your turn to check out.

Here’s how to use it.

a) Go to the App Store and Download the App if you haven’t yet. Register online to create a free account.

Improve Your Articles and Blogs

Evernote in the App Store

b) Find a blog Post you want to save and click the options button in your mobile browser. Evernote will appear as one of your app options. Click the Evernote Icon and Choose the Notebook to save it in, You may also want to tag it to make it easier to find later. I like to tag posts as ‘blog posts’ so if I ‘m searching for them later I can find them easily.

Write Simpler Blog Post     

c) Save the Article and pop into the app to see it. This is what it looks like.

d) You can then, pop into the app on your mobile and record an audio note in the same Evernote page to remind yourself why you saved this article. This will save you reading it again later and remember why you saved it.

Improve your blog writing

Evernote Article with Sound Files

 

3. The Hemingway App

Aptly named after Ernest Hemingway, who was known for his economical and understated writing style. This app will help you boost your relevance and even your google rank. How does it do this? It will help you make your sentences easier to read, helping you retain more readers longer.

This means that people will spend more time on your page before returning back to Google to make another search.

Google reads time spent on your page, as a reflection of your relevance to their search. Therefore better sentences = stronger SEO.

Improve Your Blog Post Writing

You can use the Free web version of the Hemingway app or buy the App for less than $20 dollars. The app allows you to use the app without an internet connection for interruption free writing time.

 

Want to Edit your own Posts? 

Improve Your Blog Post

 

 

4. The Headline Analyser Tool

Your headline is the most important part of your blog post. A bad headline can leave a great blog post in the unread pile. It’s always worth investing time in choosing a good title. Always allocate at least 15 minutes to write a good headline after you have finished your post.

Your post headline should ideally carry your main keyword, but as time goes by, it looks like Google is giving relevance more importance, than exact keyword match, so feel free to edit your keywords as long as they stay relevant.

Write better blog titles

https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer

 

If you’re stuck for ideas, check out this list of headline Ideas from Hubspot to get you started. https://blog.hubspot.com/hs-fs/hub/53/file-1220490141-jpg/blog-post-titles.jpg?t=1505116346280

The correct way to write a good strong title is…

a) Write a title containing your keyword for the post

b) Write the post

c) Use the Headline analyzer and your knowledge of the info that you put in the post to create a strong headline that will get your post clicked and is highly relevant to the content of your post.

You can also tailor your title to your target audience if you know what controversial topics are bound to get their attention. If you target audience is all-male or all-female the research results available at Moz.com about headlines that get clicked will make an interesting read. https://moz.com/blog/5-data-insights-into-the-headlines-readers-click

Headline wiriting for better blog posts

These 4 tools will give you a great headstart when you’re writing your blog posts. Would you like to learn how to edit your own sentences and words to keep more readers interested? It Contains 9 Simple Steps that will help you check your use of words and sentences for better posts with more impact.

The Checklist below is for you. It Contains 9 Simple Steps that will help you check your use of words and sentences for better posts with more impact. It makes an easy-to-follow to do list that you can use every time you write.

 

Download the checklist below and get started immediately.

Improve Your Blog Post

Do You Use Blogging Strategies or Follow Your Gut? How to Use Both to Get Results

September 8th, 2017|Online Marketing for Coaches & Consultants|

Blogging Strategies

In terms of blogging strategies, your gut is usually right.

We all agree.

But we don’t all verify.

When you’re about to invest time creating content and money to drive traffic to your content, you may just want to make sure you’re putting it on the right keywords and topics. Getting your blogging strategies right.

How can you make sure your content gets results?

 

Follow Your Gut

First, follow your gut.

Then ask your best clients. They reflect your ideal target audience.

What do they want to know? How do they like to communicate?

Then look into what you find out from their responses – this is where you follow your gut. Explore the topics, be creative, research and follow your gut. Break it down into sub topics, and connect it to other things they would be interested in.

Once you have let your creativity flow, it’s time to verify your hunches.
(You could be spending a lot of time optimising the wrong keyword if you don’t do this.)

Verify Your Keywords

You need to do your keyword research and find out which of your topics have good traffic volume. You can do your keyword research using a variety tools such as Google Adwords Keyword tool, SEO Moz, BuzzSumo or my favourite tool Hubspot.

However, if you don’t know how to do this do not despair, the surest and fastest way is to use a reliable SEO professional. Just provide them with your keywords and let them do their magic.

Then all you need to do is turn those keywords into blog titles and you’re good to go.

So, in reality, it’s a mixture of following your gut and verifying the strongest keywords for your topic. So let go to the creative process, get into your flow and let your gut lead the way but don’t forget to verify the numbers.

Once your keyword blogging strategies are in place, the next step is to optimise the blog copy itself.
Download the checklist below to help you do just that…

 blogging strategies

August 2017

4 Essentials of Online Selling; The Most Important Elements to Sell Online

August 31st, 2017|Online Marketing for Coaches & Consultants, The Web Solopreneur|

I often encounter entrepreneurs who want to go online and want to go all out.  They garner a large budget and make a long list of web features and come to me as a consultant, with their plan. In contrast with smaller entrepreneurial ventures that come with a small budget and big dreams. This where the 4 Essentials of Online Selling come into play.

I say the same thing to both. Your priorities don’t change even when your budget is small.

So here’s a shortlist of essential items you need to thrive online – in order of priority.

1. An Email list

You need an email list. Most of your marketing will be conducted on a social media platform. However you do not own any of these platforms. For all you know their advertising prices or free services may become too expensive for your business in the future. Your only true asset is your email list. It is also the only form of marketing that has an average ROI of 122% so make sure you start building your email list before you even get a Facebook page. From that day onwards, never stop, keep building.

Keep in mind, we’re talking about what Seth Godin called ‘Permission Marketing’. Its not behind your back directly to your inbox marketing. Do not add people who don’t want to be on your list, you’re just tarnishing your reputation and the efficacy of your list when you do that.

2. A Social Media Presence

You should start building your Social Media Audience long before you launch your new shop or website. Ideally a few months before. Aim at around 2,000 followers as a minimum to launch to. This will cost you relatively little (around €350 at most) and will start building awareness of your brand, outlet or product.

3. An online advertising budget

In order to keep steady growth, you will need a weekly online advertising budget. It can be any small or large amount you can afford, but keep it constant and never stop testing. This budget should cover your various business targets; selling your products, growing your list and building brand awareness.

  4. A follow-up process

Like every other sales process, your online process needs to be complete in order to close sales. You need to create a process that your leads and prospects go through to turn them into customers. If they’re simply blog followers sending them more content like the one they like and emailing them regularly to take them up the funnel and turn them into warmer leads. If they asked for a free consultation or downloaded an actionable ebook, they may be ready to purchase your product so you should attempt face to face meeting or Skype call to understand if they are ready to buy or if they need more information before they can take an informed purchasing decision.

This is why it’s great to have a blog. You don’t have to be sales. When a prospect needs to know more before they decide to buy you can simply direct them to the right content on your blog that addresses their questions.

Whatever your business is if you want to go online with a punch or simply take your website to the next level than a blog is going to be your best ally. It will help you grow your list, provide you with high-value content to share on social media and help you guide prospects through the customer journey so you end up with the clients that fit your product or service well. This means no more pushy sales, take the educational approach it is more real, more human and it still yields results without having to be that pushy sales person you don’t want to be. Now that you know the 4 Essentials of Online Selling do you want to improve your blogging to complement your list building efforts?

Want to improve your blogging?… then this is for you!

4 Essentials of Online Selling

 

How to improve your blogs when they’re just not getting noticed.

August 23rd, 2017|Online Marketing for Coaches & Consultants, The Web Solopreneur|

You may have tried to write so that your audience gets to know you better and perhaps you’re getting some results but also noticing some anomalies.

I was looking at an up and coming influencer on Youtube and she had 1.7K followers but her video posts only had 24 or 50 views each.

This is a sign that she is not delivering what she promises, it doesn’t mean she is not delivering value. It likely means that she is not consistent with her topics or perhaps she hasn’t niched enough and is confusing her audience.

 

1. This is why strategy is important. Have a consistent plan based on a clear profiling of the people you want to serve.

2. Check out your titles. If people are not clicking on your posts its simply because of your titles. Spend some time working on improving your titles and you will automatically increase engagement.

 

3. Get an Editor or learn to edit yourself. When editing your posts make sure you make it easier to read. Keep the reader reading, in the beginning, using a simple technique – shorten your sentences and they will feel punchier. Add quotes, sources, and credits in the right place so that your article sounds professional. Today’s freebie at the end of this article will help you edit your blog posts like a pro.

4. SEO. Optimise your blog articles for search engines. This will help you place your content in front of people who are looking for your content specifically. If this is something you’d like to learn, Join the Facebook Group or like the Facebook page because I will be tackling SEO in detail for not technical people.

 

5. Craft your story. We all have an authentic story to talk about, even a business or brand has a story. A story is anything that your customers can relate to. My story, for example, is how I leaned out my business and built an online business that helps work more flexible hours and be a better mum. Inject a bit of emotion so people can connect to how you feel.

6. Promote your content. Spend more time on social media to grow your audience.

Want to improve your Blog Posts and increase your readers? Learn how to edit your blog posts to increase legibility and publish like a Pro.

5 Simple Things You Can do Today to Receive More Enquiries From Your website

August 9th, 2017|Online Marketing for Coaches & Consultants, The Web Solopreneur|

Whether you already have a website or not, there are some features that you must have to be able to turn visitors into clients.
This is the only reason why most websites exist, yet most fail to do this. To turn more visitors into clients you need to start a conversation with your online prospects. This can only happen if you receive more enquiries from your website. The tips below will help you increase your enquiries if you already have some traffic.

The tips below will help you increase your enquiries.

This will also increase the amount of business generated through your website. Whether you close your sales online or not, increasing enquiries will automatically increase sales.

So here are 5 tips to help you increase enquiries and sales from your website


1. Add Call to Actions

Clear

The first thing you need to do is add some call to actions to your pages. If you want your customers to contact you, then you need to ask them. Be clear about what you want them to do and only add 1 clear CTA at a time.

 

Clickable

Make sure your call to action looks clickable and clearly defines what you want your users to do. Placing your call to action on a relevant page is also key.

Relevant

You need to make sure that the page copy or blog post where you place your call to action is relevant and leads the user to think of clicking on the call to action button to move to the next stage.

For example: If you’re explaining the benefits of your Life Coaching Programme on the page, your call to action may ask the visitor to click on the ‘Book an Exploratory Call’ button. On the other hand, if your page contains a blog article about ‘How to Understand What Kind of Life Coach You Need’ then your call to action might be to take the online questionnaire to understand which area of your Life needs a boost. This will give you useful information to understand whether they might be someone you can help and therefore make a good client.

Contact Details

Make sure your contact details are also present on each page. A chat option, a phone number or a quick form all increase your chances of getting more leads from your website.

receive more enquiries from your website 

2. Add Social Proof

Cialdini in his book Influence names Social proof as one of the strongest decision-making factors when purchasing a service or product. People tend to make choices based on other people’s choices before them. We tend to mimic the behaviour of others, even if we don’t know them after making basic assumptions.

Cialdini especially notes that we tend to react to social proof in the form of testimonials when these come from people who we consider similar to us. Be it in terms of age, cultural background or career/job.

Social Proof on your website can come in 2 main forms:

Client Results through case studies

But showing how we identified and resolved similar problem with similar companies in a cases study on your website you can sell your software product to similar companies who want to achieve similar results.

Their choice would be based on how similar their company is to the one in the case study and how relevant the results are to their desires.

Testimonials

Adding testimonials is a no brainer. We all know we need them but how do we get good testimonials. Based on Cialdini’s research results we tend to find testimonials appealing when they come from people who are similar to us. This means that you need to make sure that in their testimonial the client is describing who they are and what they do as well as what you have done for them.

receive more enquiries from your website
3. Add a 
Video

According to “KISSmetrics, a CTA within a video gets 380% more clicks than their normal sidebar CTAs. “

Videos generally get more clicks than any other format on a website so using video is always important. It is however even more important that your video contains all the right elements to help you convert visitors into leads.

Page Relevance

It also needs to be placed on the right page within a carefully planned conversion path.

Short and to the point

A video which is over 4 minutes long is not likely to generate much business. (it is more likely to attract your competitors or suppliers).

Your video needs to be short, relevant, well structured and carry the right call to action to generate leads, shares and engagement or whatever outcome you’re after.

Use shorter video in more places

A lot of companies go wrong in 2 main areas when creating online video. They either create too little or they create videos that do not target the top of the funnel (or people who do not yet know why your product is right for them).

Educate your audience with video

By adding video content that targets people who are in the awareness stage and are looking for a potential solution to their problems you increase the chances of landing warmer leads or people you can help from your call to actions.

Educational videos can be a great way of shortening the awareness and consideration stages placing you firmly as a valid prospect for your ideal client’s next purchase.

4. Add a Trust Seal

By adding trust seals and awards to your website you raise your credibility and public profile. Many times industry awards thrive off this. Participating regularly and developing a relationship with the entity offering awards in your industry can be a great first step to win some awards.

Learning about their expectations and eligibility criteria means that it is often a matter of time and compliance before you hit the nail on the head and win that award.

So start today and keep at it. It has been proven that people trust industry awards and seals of approval. It is a form of brand riding where the awarding entity has built a reputation for excellence which then rubs off on the winners because they are awarded the trusted standard of that entity.

receive more enquiries from your website

5. High-Value Content

Providing high-value content for your audience in the form of blog posts, video or downloadable give you the opportunity to harvest email addresses with a view to developing a long term relationship with your audience.

Authority

By creating original high-value content that your ideal client is looking for online you position yourself as an industry expert whilst also educating your prospects and therefore winning their trust. It creates a win-win situation and includes no sleazy sales pitch.

Useful Information

Make sure you provide valuable content on your website that is truly useful to your clients. Forget the sales pitch. Think of your clients and care for them and their success. Create downloadables and blog posts that they can truly learn from and start developing a relationship with your audience.

The features listed above can be easily implemented in any existing website using third party tools such as Leadpages and MailChimp.

By implementing the tips above into your existing website you will be in a position to start developing truly meaningful online relationships with your prospects. This will increase the number of leads that decide to contact you for an enquiry about your business or products and services. By providing more content you will also make sure you increase traffic over time.

Now that you know how to increase the enquiries from your website learn about the simple strategy hacks you can use to make sure your website enquiries come from well-matched potential clients (high-quality leads).

Click the button below to download for FREE.

7 Marketing Strategies that will double the High-Quality Leads per Month

July 2017

Why you need to SEO your website and where to start.

July 26th, 2017|Online Marketing for Coaches & Consultants, Uncategorized|

In a super-connected world, adverts and sales calls have become unwelcome interruptions. Does this mean sales and marketing are a thing of the past?

Of course not. This is why you need to SEO your website. Today we live in a world where radio, TV, information are all available on demand. So as entrepreneurs and business owners we need to be found in order to put our products and services in front of our potential clients.

What we do when we’re mulling over a purchasing decision?

We google it.

How do you market in a world where people don’t want to be called, don’t want to be emailed
and don’t care about your online banners?

By Writing and Producing Content in the form of videos, images, presentations and pdfs etc. that can be found in Google by people who need them.

How do we do get our content found? By using SEO.

SEO stands for search engine optimisation.

It is the process of making tweaks to your website to make it easier to find and understand by Google and other search engines.

There are 3 main areas to tackle to SEO your website.

Technical, Content and Off-site. It can get pretty complex but if you’re starting off, don’t worry, the following is a short-list of 7 Things that will make all the difference.

Here are 7 tips that will help you get more search engine traffic on your website…

1. You need to make sure your images and all your content are properly optimised, which means that they carry keywords in their tags. First, know your keywords. You need to choose a target audience and research your keywords using SEO tools or outsource this job to a pro.

2. You need to make sure your website has the right Meta Description

3. The Content Side – You need to make sure you have regular new content on your website – this will keep the bots visiting and push your content up the result list.

4. Optimise the structure of your website. – Reverse engineer what your clients want and give them that information on the website. If you sell business coaching and most of your clients are start-ups then offer your audience lots of content about how to start a business, how to avoid the most common mistakes and educate them about myths that could cost them money.

Make sure you validate what they want, with your customers and then find keywords that have traffic related to the problems you resolve. Your website can still have the obligatory services, about and other pages but it also needs to include a page for each keyword you’re targeting.

5. Social Media. You need to have a presence on Social Media, wherever your audience is, you need to be there. In terms of SEO, it’s important because sharing pages and content from your site onto social platforms provide you with backlinks to your website as well as a source of traffic.

6. Guest Posts. Try to get guest posts on high ranking sites like the Huffington Post or any site that is related to your area of expertise. Ideally get a backlink, although sometimes this will not be possible.

7. Write regularly to get featured in Google about your topic. If you want your audience to find you, then you’re going to need quantity and quality. You need quantity because you can only start with low traffic, low competition keywords to stand a chance of featuring on the first page. On the other hand, you need quality because if people don’t find your content interesting, you will not get any clients and your position in Google will also soon drop off because Google measures relevance by timing how long your visitors take to go back to Google.

So now you know where to start. No matter what platform you’re using, improving your SEO is always possible. Most of the leverage will be brought about by your content but your tech may need modernising too.

Would you like to understand how all the elements of Online Marketing work together to produce online sales? I’m planning a webinar that does just that go to www.stephaniefiteni.com/blueprint and book your seat today. Don’t worry, if you can’t, make it live, I will send you a replay.

8 Proven Hacks to Take Your Productivity to The Next Level

July 12th, 2017|Online Marketing for Coaches & Consultants, The Web Solopreneur|

The most successful people in the online media like Guy Kawasaki, Grant Cardone and Michael Hyatt quote frequency and consistency as the key to their online success and a large following. Looking for more success and more visibility begs for productivity hacks to squeeze more of what we already do into less time. This is where the way we organise our time and goals becomes key to success.

Although part of our work includes being online the most successful online influencers are actually the ones that manage to disconnect, carving out time to work on projects that require focus. Checking the stats of your latest blog post or the likes on that funny picture you posted every 5 minutes is not only killing your current productivity but also your ability to focus.

Hacks to Take Your Productivity to The Next Level

I have spent the last few months focusing on increasing my productivity through systems that help me improve my organisation and focus time tolerance. By keeping planning simple and staying execution focused you can gradually reduce the time it takes to do a given task such as writing a blog post by as much as 40%.

The most important breakthrough in timesaving came when I started creating working systems that did not require me to be online during tasks that require focus.

Here’s what worked:

1. Getting to Inbox Zero

As a content marketeer (and marketing agency founder) I need to keep in touch with customers and colleagues through email and also follow industry trends, tools and news. This means that my inbox is often overwhelmed with email and getting to work on focus-intensive work is difficult with a full inbox and a cluttered head. A simple folder system with the current folders now allows me to clear my inbox until it’s time for that scheduled time bucket. Different people may require different folders however the key is to keep them to a maximum of 5 or less. Any more and clutter seems to be creep back in.

My 5 folders are called:

  • To Do
  • New Jobs to Schedule
  • To Quote
  • Delegated to follow up later
  • To Read Later

Anything that doesn’t fit in these folders gets either deleted or replied to instantly. In fact any email that can be answered in 1 minute or less gets a reply instead of going to the To Do folder.

 

2. Using a Scheduler like Hootsuite

Hootsuite will increase your efficiency tenfold if social post frequency is your thing. To keep my audience engaged I post quite frequently and usually during busier times when platforms tend to load more slowly. Searching for articles and scheduling them can take quite a long time – approximately around 40 mins for about 10 to 12 posts.

By installing the Hootsuite plugin (hootlet) on my Chrome I now schedule posts anytime I am researching and come across a good article that appeals to my target audience. This happens frequently because of course, my writing targets the same audience.

 

3. Writing in airplane mode

If you don’t do it already then start today. Before writing switch off your wifi receiver and turn off your phone. You’ll be amazed how much more you’ll get done. You’ll also experience an improvement in the quality of your writing. If blocking out distractions tends to be difficult, talk to your colleagues about the Pomodoro technique (more on this below). Let them know that when you’re wearing your headphones and your timer is on you’re in the middle of a pomodoro and that is no distractions time. Explain that you have a 5 minute break between pomodoros and the timer will tell them exactly when that is due.

 

4. Extend focus space with time buckets

According to the Four Hour Work Week author Tim Ferris, clustering similar tasks in time bucket of around 3 to 4 hours will help you reduce the time it takes to work through those tasks. To devise your own time bucket plan you need to think like you’re creating a weekly breakdown of everything you do – a bit like a school time-table. The time buckets should start off looking the same every week for example 2 hours on Monday for Planning, 3 hours for writing etc.. You input this into your calendar and then make changes according to what you have booked and planned for the week.

Time your activities for 1 or 2 weeks and then use this information to build your time buckets. Over time you may find that the time buckets don’t fit your needs anymore and therefore you’ll need to do this again every few months.

 

5. List-Making – Google Keep

Every time bucket specified above will have a to do list attached to it. This list will grow as you empty your email inbox. In fact you should attempt to put everything on your list and out of your inbox. It is great at helping you reach and keep inbox zero.

Google keep is one of the better tools for the job especially if you’re looking for a free tool. Lists can be attached to an image for visual reminders, you can share lists (which is great for delegating tasks) you have tick boxes to tick off items as you go along (and it helps motivate you too!). Its available on mobile, tablet and web so you never have to worry about forgetting, just add your to do items to the appropriate list as they pop into your head.

The great thing about Google Keep lists is that you can tag them. So for example I can have a to do list for every blog I manage and then just tag them all as client blogs. Then when my time bucket for client blogging is due I just choose the ‘Client Blogs’ tag in my Google Keep and all my client blog lists line themselves up neatly. Then I move on to the Pomodoro technique.

 

6. Pomodoro technique

The Pomodoro technique works very well with time buckets. The technique was invented by Francesco Cirillo and is based on very simple principles. This system helps you break down your focus time into 25 minute chunks. It really helps in the long run because by thinking in Pomodoros you will improve your efficiency at predicting how much time you require for a particular task or project.

There are five basic steps to implementing the technique:

Step one – Decide what you’re going to do and break it down into smaller tasks

Step Two – Set a timer to 25 minutes

Step Three – Work on the task until the timer rings (record progress tick finished tasks)

Step Four: Take a short break (3–5 minutes)

Repeat Step three and four for as long as your time bucket allows. After four Pomodoros, take a longer break (15–30 minutes). You time bucket should ideally not be longer than 4 Pomodoros – that’s approximately 2 hours.

 

7. Automation Tools – Zapier and IFTTT

Using automation tools can also save you a lot of time by taking small but cumulative daily tasks off your hand. The best tools for this are definitely Zapier and If This Then That (IFTTT).

Both tools are designed to make apps. and online tools speak to each other and pass on data creating simple automated workflows that would have otherwise not been possible.

For example, if you like to type your blog posts and format them in WordPress, (or just do your final edit there) you can create an automation path that backs up every post you publish to your Google Drive, Drop Box, Evernote or any other integrated back-up tool of your choice. This will make sure you never forget to back-up the final version of your articles.

Zapier can also be used to easily and efficiently post images to the various social platforms, a feature which unfortunately fails all too often in Hootsuite and other scheduling tools. IFTTT, on the other hand, can help you post Instagram photos as native Twitter pics. IYou can also use it to automate thank you replies to new social followers.

Both Zapier and IFTT can be a big help with your list-building. By creating the right set-up it is possible to create new contacts by sending every new iOS contact to a Google sheet which then automatically registers it in Mailchimp saving you follow-up time after a speaking engagement, networking event or conference. You then also automate introductory emails that are triggered when inserting into your email marketing software; meaning your follow-ups and list-building are instant and require no additional work later.

The possibilities are truly endless with Zapier; it supports around 500 Apps ranging across online storage, CRM, email and productivity tools whereas IFTTT offers ready-made ‘recipes’ that you can use to do anything from post images to instagram and flicker or create an action like changing your Facebook status when you wake up.

If you write from a specific location like an office or cafe, you can set your phone to go on silent mode when you arrive at this location to block out distractions. Your imagination is the limit with these two tools. Its a fast and easy way to smarten your daily workflow and the way to deal with others.

My favourite time-saving hack from IFTTT is definitely Speaking notes to Evernote using Siri and iOS Reminders. This helps me save blog ideas on the go without even having to type them out.

 

8. Master Speed Writing

Speed writing is a technique used by many professional writers to get their ideas down on paper fast. It is a technique that claims to flex your creativity muscles allowing more of your thoughts to flow more easily.

It particularly lends itself to blogging because it often results in natural copy that reads easily and has a very conversational tone. This is often the desired style for bloggers and it can help you write in a more authentic voice. It has also been proven to cut writing time in half.

This technique combined with the Pomodoro Technique and putting it all into 1-time bucket, has in fact practically halved the time it takes me to blog every week. Staying on subject and not having to ‘warm up’ every time helped me cut the time it takes me to write 5 blog posts from an average of 1.6 hours per post a day (a total of 8 hours) to 7 Pomodoros (25 + 5-minute chunks) that’s 3.5 hours in total.

Before following the Speedy Writing technique it’s important to establish two points. The first is to not try to type faster, this is not about typing faster it’s about thinking faster, secondly it’s important that you do not stop; the system works because it cuts out the time you use to stop and think. No thinking time allowed.

Steps to Speedier Writing

1. Do your research and log information in clearly organised notes so you can read them before beginning to write.

2. Split your target word count into blocks of 150 words.

3. Choose a question as a title – answering a question is easier than fulfilling a statement you just made up. You can change the title later if you don’t really want to use a question.

4.  Choose 3 keywords to include in the copy

5. Write 200 words without stopping

6. Edit it down to 150 words – remove any superfluous words. If it a sentence still makes sense without that word, remove it! It will read better.

7. Paste into your word doc. and start the next writing chunk…

This tool which I first discovered at neilstoolbox.com, will help you produce quality writing, faster. If you were to do this 10 times per day, you could write a book in under 3 months.

In Tim Ferris’ words “Focus on being productive not being busy”. I hope the tools above will help you focus on getting more done in less time so you can dominate your niche whilst achieving work-life balance.

The best thing about becoming more efficient is the fact that you are consciously giving your time more importance. By focusing on freeing up time you can schedule in more social activities or me-time, this will also translate into better productivity. Carving out down time and relaxing time is key to productivity too so make your target more enjoyable by using time saved for activities you enjoy. If you’re happier you’re more productive and you’ll find procrastination is not a problem anymore.

 

Want to take your business blog to the next level? Contact me for coaching or mentoring here.

How to blog to grow your business

July 12th, 2017|Online Marketing for Coaches & Consultants|

Start with Why.

For some of us, this title would beg the question.

Why do you need to blog to grow your business? Blogging (writing articles) or Video blogging (creating recorded videos or Facebook lives) creates interest from real people and also search engine visibility. It helps you get found in Google thus increasing your visibility to prospects that might be looking for your services but never heard of you before.

The benchmark is 2 articles per week per target audience. But how can we blog effectively for our business? How do we actually generate new business leads from our blog?

Niche down.

So if you target audience is start-ups then choose a smaller group within this audience such as Tech Start-Ups. You niche it even further if this still constitutes a sizeable audience such as Online Software Start-Ups.

This will allow you to create two things that help you generate business. If you try to promote everything at once you ‘ll find yourself trying to be too many different things to too many people at once. This often results in very bland content which is easy to ignore.

So forget your ‘Prospect Fomo’ and focus on one small section of your business. Once you carve out a reputation for this niche you can start adding more and get traction faster on new niches you want to target. The secret is to conquer one niche first.

By focusing on these two factors you can start generating interest in your services and carve out a reputation in your niche.

 

Traffic.

Yes, it’s become so taken for granted that we have now started using SEO as a buzz word. But what does SEO really stand for or do? and do I really have any chance of using it to boost my traffic?

SEO stands for search engine optimisation, this is the process of making sure your content can be properly found and indexed by Google. What’s important is that Google knows to serve your content to the right people who are looking for your services.

This needs to be reverse engineered but I can assure you it’s not half as complex as it sounds. As time goes by optimising for people and search engines is easier because Google is improving its algorithm in a way that detects natural content and natural behaviours online. Black hat will be a thing of the past very very soon.

How can you get SEO to work for you?

 

1. Choose keywords that have traffic…

if you create content that nobody is searching for you will have a hard time to get it shared and found. So make sure you do keyword research or commission an SEO expert to do it for you and then use these keywords in your blog post titles and twice in the content. Ideally in the introduction and conclusion. You also need to use the keyword (one per article) to optimise your images. There is a property called ‘alt tag’ you can see this when inserting an image into your WordPress site or even most custom systems that are set enabled. This is a good start if you never SEO-ed your blog posts. If you’re using WordPress you might also want to download the toast plugin which helps you optimise further using a very simple checklist at the bottom of each post.

blog to grow your business

2. The “OMG this is just what I need” factor.

By niching down you create the “OMG this is just what I need” factor. This happens when a prospect lands on your site and feels sure that your service is right for them. How do you have this effect on people? This is a natural byproduct of niching down to a small sector of your target audience.

If we’re writing for Online Software Start-Ups then we know that they sell online, they need to explain a complex product to their audience and they need get people to register for their product. This puts me in a position to know the needs and problems of my clients more easily and its these problems that are key. Let’s say you sell tax consultancy. You would specifically create content that addresses the problems a tech company selling online o various countries might be encountering. perhaps you can help them understand how to scale, how to recruit remotely and still be on the right side of the law and how to charge tax and pay tax based on where the purchase of their online product takes place.

If I were in the online software business and came across this content I would feel like wow this is just the info I need. But let’s imagine for a second that I stuck with the main target market – start-ups. I might have been tempted to write very generically about company set-up recruiting your first employees and going through all the applicable taxes that start-ups may have to pay. Do you think this wold have been interesting to the Online software start-up? Of course not, although they may skim read your content they will not see you as a resource to return to because you’re not relevant enough.

If you’re now looking to target your first niche you can start by simply writing the main industry you work in, then be adding a descriptor like we did when we toolkit to Tech Start-Ups and then adding one more descriptor to niche down further.

 

Examples:

Start—Ups | Tech Start-Ups | Online Software Start-Ups

Tech Companies | Software Development Companies | iGaming Software Companies

Agencies | Digital Agencies | Email Marketing Agencies

Coaches | Health & Wellness Coaches | Weight-loss coaches

Small Businesses | Small Family Businesses | Small Family Businesses Going through rapid growth

 

Are you ready to find your own niche so you can increase dominate it in the online space?

 

blog to grow your business

 

 

Download the Find Your Niche Checklist to follow a process that works every time to make sure that when you blog to grow your business you get all the details right.

5 Things Highly Successful Bloggers do Daily

July 2nd, 2017|Online Marketing for Coaches & Consultants, The Web Solopreneur|

Wouldn’t it be great to see the traffic to your blog growing every week? Highly successful bloggers have a constant increase in the flow of traffic to their blog and leads flowing into their business. Some of their posts get thousands of readers.

They’re in a very enviable position, but how do they do it?

Here are 5 simple tips successful bloggers use to boost the performance of your content

  1. Take Notes

Creativity comes easier to some but is never available on tap. You may book a slot for writing every week, but sometimes the ideas just don’t flow and you feel like you wasted your time trying to force those ideas out of your head.

Taking notes helps you in moments like this. Bloggers that just seem to turn on the creativity tap have a secret. They take notes when inspiration strikes. You never know when inspiration will strike and no matter how often you tell yourself “It’s such a good idea I’ll remember this” you won’t. You just won’t remember it when you need it most. So get yourself an Evernote account or simply use the notepad app on your smart phone and jot down those notes.

  1. Listen to audio books

ideas don’t fall out of the sky. You need to listen and read about your topic consistently and make sure that you find the best information out there. This doesn’t mean that you regurgitate other people’s ideas. It means that you give yourself space to listen for inspiration, often hearing something you totally disagree with will give you the push you need to write about what you do believe in. So immerse yourself in audio books. A cheap way to do this is to get an audible monthly membership.

  1. Spend time on Social Media & Start Conversations with their audiences

The best bloggers know what conversations to start because they spend time listening on Social media. They use tools like Buzzsumo to look at trends and regularly visit sites like Quora to understand what their audience wants. They start conversion in relevant Facebook groups and learn about what people’s core difficulties are with regards to their topic.

1. Stay Up to date with SEO Developments

Event the best writers can’t ignore SEO. In order to have blog posts that perform very well, you need to SEO right. Search engine optimisation is not rocket science, but you have to keep it realistic. If you aim to slowly stack traffic by finding low competition keywords, then its only a matter of time to build traffic to your blog. So make sure that you research your

keywords and optimise your posts as best you can.

 

2.Watch their Statistics

Highly effective bloggers watch their stats. Everyones’ audience is different, check your stats to know what makes yours tick. The formula is simple; check what gets most clicks and shares and produce more content around those topics or delve into more detail.

Sometimes you can recycle content simply by changing the title of a non-popular blog post to a topic that is getting more traffic without changing the content. change titles and imagery and share again.

Once you have a good post – turn it into all the formats you can. Video, Infographic, Giphy, mini-course and much more.

 

Want to take your online marketing to the next level? Contact me for coaching or mentoring here.

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