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How to Think More Like a CEO and Less Like an Idiot

How to Think Like a CEO and Grow Your Small Business

It didn’t happen as planned.

In fact, I didn’t have a plan.

But, one thing led to another and…

I now have a small business to run, burp, feed, and (hopefully) grow.

And it consumes most of my waking hours.

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not complaining—I’m proud of BlogWorks, our team, the results we get for our clients and how we are growing.

What worries me is that I’m not growing—still running around like an idiot, instead of trying to think like a CEO.

Sound familiar?

Before I get to some solutions I’ve discovered that are increasing my sales and my bottom line, let me take you briefly back to the beginning.

Once upon a time…

I was driving to Vancouver to present to a small gathering of new and experienced speakers when it happened.

I’d been wondering how I could help other small business owners promote their blog on social media. At that time I had been publishing links to my blog into my news feed on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter and seeing good results.

In my hotel room, the night before the meeting, I threw together a quick offer sheet for a blog promotion service similar to what I had been using.

One-third of the room bought it.

One month later the system was up and running, I had 3 contractors writing updates and I had a new business.

Fast forward to today…

I’m now into my 7th year owning BlogWorks and my little start-up has surpassed my speaking income and (as these things go) takes up most of my working time (and worries).

You might be a seasoned veteran or be nurturing your own startup. Either way, you will know the stresses, uncertainty, worry, and hard work that comes with the “freedom” of entrepreneurship.

As a bit of a serial entrepreneur (I think it’s been 40 years since I received a paycheck), I have one big blind spot.

I keep returning to the scene of the crime.

Let me explain.

We all suffer from an error in thinking called cognitive bias.1If you want to dive into the science behind cognitive bias there’s no end of research into this twist in our wiring. Like this article about why MBA graduates start businesses. We tend to see things based on our experience, not on reality. Or in my language: stupid-ass thinking.

You, me, everyone loves to be right. Instead of stepping back to find a new, better solution we look for reasons we are right.

It looks like this:

  • I think if I do something myself (instead of delegating or outsourcing) it will be faster and better.
  • My default response is to give detailed instructions (even write them up), instead of empowering employees to be creative and create their own solutions.
  • I bloat my Flight Plan2I walk you through my complete Plan Like A Pilot system, including how to create a Flight Plan in this post. for this week with 3 weeks’ worth of work.
  • Instead of phoning a warm lead (and possibly getting a quick sale), I spend my time inventing large-scale marketing schemes that often go nowhere.

Yeah, I’m an idiot.

What scares me, even more, is that I keep repeating the same dough-headed behaviour.

How to think like a CEO and less like an idiot

I’ve come to the uncomfortable conclusion that I will always make bad decisions. I’ve also discovered small shifts in my thinking and planning can pay big dividends.

But wait…

Doesn’t owning a small business mean I need to think BIG and dream up massive world-conquering schemes that attract venture-capital-backed takeovers and eventual buyouts by Google (or Amazon)?

I don’t think so.

The story behind most successful businesses is usually not a hockey-stick growth curve, but actually more a slow grind.

Tobias Lütke lived in his in-law’s basement in Ottawa for 13 years while he was building the Shopify.

Stewart Butterfield struggled through some pretty lean years before he pivoted an internal communication tool for his team into the global phenomenon called Slack.

And John Foley spent his weekends flogging his new stationary bike Peloton in shopping malls for 2 years before he could afford a salesperson.

Looking at successful businesses, like Shopify, Slack, and Peloton and their celebrity founders it’s hard to imagine them sloughing it out through the lean years. It’s also hard to imagine all the dumb decisions they must have made.3To learn more about the founders mentioned here, listen to the remarkable start-up stories of Tobias Lütke, of Shopify, John Foley of Peloton, and Stewart Butterfield of Slack being interviewed by Guy Raz on NPR’s How I Built This.

But they did.

If we want success we have to work through our blind spots, limitations, and fears. It’s those small forks in the road that make us stronger and smarter business leaders.

How about you? Are you growing in your business or repeating the same thinking offenses over and over?

Here’s what I’m working on to think like a CEO

1. Build your business, not your To-Do list.

Your To-Do list is sort of like Dobby in the Harry Potter series. It will hang onto your pant leg, slowing you down until you give it some attention. The trick is to both keep your eye on what builds your business and give much of your list a new owner (#2).

A quick test is to see if you have tasks on your To-Do list that scare you. Like calling a past client for more business or renegotiating a bad contract or coaching a team member.

If your list is mostly easy, time-consuming tasks there’s a good chance you need both refocus on growth and outsource.

2. Outsource quickly and completely.

Every entrepreneur takes on low-value, repetitive (often technical) work they should not be doing. It could be learning how to make your new shopping cart play nice with your CRM, set up an email sequence in MailChimp, or design your new LinkedIn banner in Canva.

What seems like a 5-minute job ends up consuming half a day and, in the end, still isn’t perfect.

Here’s the thing about outsourcing…

Outsourcing is like going to the gym: unless you start it will look uncomfortable, expensive, and unlikely to succeed. Fortunately, tools like Upwork and Freelancer make it dead easy to post a job, find a freelancer, and get the work done.4I described my process for quickly hiring great writers in this post. Even if you aren’t in the market for writers, you will learn how to use the filters in Upwork to quickly select and test good candidates.

Some jobs I recently outsourced include:

  • New headers for our social media channels.
  • Redesign of my newest lead magnet “Million Dollar Blog.”
  • Writing and circulating writing tips for our team at BlogWorks.
  • Creating a new opt-in sequence.
  • Building software for a new headline analyzer.
  • Simplifying our site to make navigation easier.

3. Do one thing better.

We’re all human and change is hard. But, changing one thing at a time is not only very possible, but it’s also all we can do.

Maybe that’s why The One Thing by Kelly and Papasan was such a massive hit on the best seller’s list. Their advice is simple: if you want to create a massive change in your life and work, keep asking yourself “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?”

“If you chase two rabbits, you will not catch either one.” Russian proverb

To prime your pump, here are some “one things” I’m doing:

  • No email or social media before 9:00 (that’s 4 hours after I wake up).
  • Follow up immediately after a meeting or client call.
  • Block my time for important work.5I explain how to block time and how transformational this can be to your productivity and focus in this post.
  • Write every morning for 90 minutes.
  • Exercise every day for a minimum of 45 minutes.

There is no single road map to success in business. All we have is the path carved by those ahead of us and our steering wheel. The more I drive down this road the more I realize how often I let others pull on the wheel or I let go altogether.

If your goal is to have a profitable, sustainable (hopefully fun) business you have to grab hold of the wheel, think like a CEO, and keep making small changes to point you in the direction of that goal.

Enjoyed this rant? Here are 3 more articles about strategy and doing the right stuff:

Why you need Standard Operating Procedures in your business.
How to build your perfect performance dashboard in just 5 minutes.
A survival guide for small business owners in a crisis (or anytime).

How to Apply Consistency to Your Website to Get More Leads

In a small suburb of California, researchers went door to door with an absurd request.

They were asking homeowners if a huge ‘Drive Safely’ sign could be erected on their front lawn. As you might expect, almost no one agreed.

But, on one street a strange thing happened – over 70% of people actually agreed. The reason they said yes could be one secret to you getting more sales.

What happened?

Well, one week earlier the same homeowners had been asked if a small sticker could be placed on their window with the same message. It was such a small request that almost all of them agreed.

When one week later the same person returned and asked about placing the huge sign on their lawn. As it was much harder for the homeowner to reduce the request, the sign went up.

The Principle of Persuasion

In his 1984 ground-breaking book, Influence, psychologist, Robert Cialdini1Learn more about Robert Cialdini’s 6 principles of persuasion. identified 6 principles of how to get someone to say yes (convert them). They are:

  • Reciprocity – we want to return a favour
  • Scarcity – we buy because it is in short supply
  • Authority – we believe trustworthy and credible experts
  • Liking – we say yes to people we like
  • Consensus – we trust the power of the crowd, and
  • Consistency
In his best-selling book, Influence, psychologist Robert Cialdini defines the 6 principles of how to get someone to say yes (convert).

The Principle of Consistency

The principle of consistency states that we like to be consistent with what we have said or done in the past. Tell people you like Grande, nonfat, Caramel Macchiato, and next time you’re in Starbucks you’re more likely to order it (even if you’d feel better drinking tea).

Consistency also plays a part in marketing and sales.

Your waitress drops by your table to ask how your meal is. With your mouthful, you pause, consider how delicious the burger is a mumble that it’s great. What appears to be simply good customer service is also the principle of consistency in action.

Customers who agree they liked their meal are more likely to order dessert2There are many studies on the impact of a waiter’s behaviour and the number of tips they receive. One study found that if waitresses added a smiley face on a bill it increased tips (but not for waiters) and when waitresses briefly touched the patron’s arm when asking if they’d like to order a drink, tips increased an average of 25%., stay longer, and tip more generously.

The ad agency wants you to think that the new truck displayed in their ads is a perfect fit for a person like you (adventurous, rugged, and the kind of person who would happily hook a chain to a friend’s 4X4 and pull them out of the mud).

A car salesperson wants you to agree that you like the color of the new car in the showroom.

We are responding to our need to be consistent without knowing it. Applying the principle of consistency to your website can motivate visitors who otherwise might visit and leave to stop and take action.

First, you need to deal with a high exit rate.

High Exit Rate

The goal of your website is to showcase your business to prospects and fill your sales funnel. Of course, your website can help build a brand, or offer members access to a membership site, but the primary goal is sales.

Unfortunately, that’s not what’s happening. Most visitors to your site arrive and then leave. Quickly.

How to Apply Consistency to Your Website to Get More Leads - Exit Rate
Unfortunately, most visitors to your site leave on without getting past the first page

Imagine running a store where customers walk in the door, look around, and then leave – within one minute. It would be disastrous! The reality is that one minute is the average time people will stay on your site.

The good news is that a small percentage of those visitors will stay 3, 5 even 10 minutes. Those are your future customers.

The trick for getting short-time visitors to your site to become long-time visitors is to get them to take one small step. That’s where the principle of consistency comes in.

Just like you agreeing with your waitress that you like your meal if you can get a visitor to act in a way consistent with what they believe in you have a good first step.

One Small Step in the Right Direction

A good place to start is with your customers. Start by asking yourself what does your ideal customer already believe about themselves?

Brian Clark’s company Copyblogger invites readers who consider themselves to be “smarter” to join his list and learn more from his company.

How to Apply Consistency to Your Website to Get More Leads - CopyBlogger
Caption What does your ideal customer believe about themselves?

Like many software companies, Convertkit invites site visitors to take a free trial of their software. What happens next is a great example getting prospects to take one small step.

Once, you click the button to take the free trial you are asked a simple question: are you starting a new mailing list or moving from a competing product?

Depending on how you answer that question you are asked one more question about your goals and then led to enter your name and email to open a free trial account.

The genius of this step-be-step method is that prospects are being led down a path of consistency—each question naturally follows what you indicated in the last question.

How to Apply Consistency to Your Website to Get More Leads - Convertkit
Convertkit using the principle of consistency by asking prospects to answer questions that are consistent with the previous question.

Getting started

Getting a prospect to say yes to a sale will always be easier if they are acting consistently with their beliefs and the way they have acted in the past. Using the principle of consistency could be the secret weapon for turning your website into a sales funnel and converting more visitors into customers.

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more all about putting your blog to work:

The ultimate guide: How to use images, videos and screenshots in blog posts
How to build your perfect website performance dashboard in just 5 minutes
How to write an amazing roundup post

How To Add Youtube Videos to Your Blog: The Ultimate Guide

Want to get more traffic and keep visitors around longer? Once you know how to add Youtube videos to your blog, you can kill both these birds with one stone.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to put a link in your blog to a YouTube video. You’ll also learn how to add a Vimeo video, GIF, and SlideShare. And I’m going to make this very untechnical (even I can do it and so can you).

Once you have your video inserted and playing, I’ll also show you some neat tricks to get them to behave how you want.

But, first let’s take a step back and talk about WHY you should add Youtube videos to your blog.

Why add Youtube videos to your blog?

More time equals more business.

conference room of people
Your blog is like a series of breakout rooms off the main conference hall

Your blog is like a series of breakout rooms off the main conference hall.

Your website is like a conference hall – people come from different directions to visit, explore, learn, and even buy.

Visitors arrive directly via your emails (announcing your new blog post) or from social media or organic searches (people find you by searching for a topic). Some leave soon after arriving—as many as 75-85% won’t make it past the first room. The average time in that conference hall your website is about one to two minutes.

And then there’s your blog…

Your blog is like a series of breakout rooms off the main conference hall. Each room has a different topic – a new set of solutions tackling a problem your clients struggle with.

What’s different about those breakout rooms/blog posts is people stay a whole lot longer—like 5-13 minutes.

That’s a HUGE opportunity!

Imagine if conversations with your prospects were 5-10 times longer – that’s good, right?

That’s what your blog can do: make people stop, explore, look at your products and services and ask for more.

When you add richer, more detailed content – like video – this works even better.

Now prospects will stay longer and get to know you better. Soon you’ll start to develop that know/like/trust relationship we all want.

That’s why it’s such a good idea to add media, like Youtube videos, to your blog.

Adding video is a great start, but here are 7 other ways to help your blog stand out from the crowd.

Now, let’s look at how to actually get the video into your blog.

How to put a link in your blog to a YouTube video

If you’ve already mastered the steps to insert images in your blog, adding video will be easy.

Not a pro yet? Don’t worry—we’ve got a guide for adding images to your blog posts right here.

WordPress comes installed with a neat feature called auto-embed. This allows you to insert videos in your WordPress blog post by simply pasting the URL of your video directly in the post.

Auto-embed will work with YouTube, Vimeo and Wistia hosted videos. It will even work with your favourite Slideshare videos.

If you’re working with a simple MP3 or GIF video, you can upload the file into Media, but note this will slow down loading time.

Your best practice is to always embed your videos from YouTube or a hosting site like Vimeo or Wistia. You can also embed your video directly from your Google Drive (see instructions below).

Here’s how to put a link in your blog to a YouTube video:

  1. The first step is to capture the URL of the video you want. You can copy the URL from your browser’s address bar or directly from the YouTube share link button.

screenshot showing how to add youtube videos to your blog

Tip: For longer videos, you can easily change the start time (for example, 30 seconds in) by first checking the “Start at” box and choosing the time you want. Then copy the link.

screen shot of how to embed youtube video url

2. The easiest and quickest way to embed YouTube videos in WordPress is to simply copy/paste the URL into your new post. Make sure you are looking at the “Visual” editor, not the “Text” editor.

gif of how to add youtube videos

3. Once you have the video inserted, go to Preview and you can see it in action.

Want to change the settings? Use the WordPress blog edit menu.

If you want to change the size of the video (this only works if you pasted the embed code), go to the “Text” editor and change the actual “width=” and “height=” settings.

Be sure to keep the ratio between the numbers the same (warning: this involves math!)

For example “<iframe width=”560″ height=”315″ src=” (315/560 = .56) could be changed to “<iframe width=”800″ height=”450″ src=” (450/800 = .56)

 

 

screenshot of how to edit inserted video

 

How to insert video from your Google Drive

If you’re like the team at BlogWorks, we like to have all the elements of our blog post neatly organized in one folder on our Google Drive. This includes the images and the videos for that post.

The goal is to embed that video, not upload it, so it will load faster and not take up room on our WordPress site.

It’s a bit of a workaround, but once you’ve done it once (like making bread, Origami, or sex) it’s not so scary. Ready?

It’s a bit of a workaround, but once you’ve done it once (like making bread, Origami, or sex) it’s not so scary. Click To Tweet
  • Click on the video in your Google Drive.
  • Once opened look for the 3 dots and click on “open in new window”
  • Again, click on the 3 dots, and this time click on “embed item…”
  • Copy the embed code (it will start with “<iframe src=”https://drive.google.com/file…”)
  • Head back to your new blog post and select the “Text” view (instead of “Visual”) and paste the embed code where you want it.
  • Finally, go back to the “Visual” view to see your video and edit the settings.

HOW TO ADD YOUTUBE VIDEOS TO YOUR BLOG: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE

Note: your video share settings must be set to be viewed by anyone who has the link. You can quickly change your share settings by opening the video, go to 3 dots, click on “Share”, click on the sharing option drop down (you might have to then click on “more…”) and change settings. When you change settings here, it changes how your embedded video works on your site.

New to Google Drive? Here’s how to master it.

How to insert a Slideshare deck into your blog

If you are still a fan of Slideshare it’s easy to add your latest slide deck to your blog post. Slideshare (owned by LinkedIn) can be a great way to not only dress up your LinkedIn profile (upload decks directly to your profile) but also to keep readers happily clicking through slides and staying on your site longer.

Here is a good example:

Here’s how to insert a Slideshare deck into your blog:

  • First, open Slideshare, and find the deck you want to add.
  • Click on the “Share” button. That should open up a menu with your embed code. It should look like this.
Adding your latest Slideshare deck to your blog post is a great way to keep readers on your site longer
  • Open your “Text” view in WordPress and insert the embed code in your post.
  • Finally, go back to the “Visual” view to see your video and edit the settings.

About privacy settings

Recent versions of YouTube have removed some of the earlier options to modify how your video played on your WordPress site (if you are using the embed code option.) You can still remove the player controls (start/stop etc.)

One option that has been added (and that you should use) is the “Enable privacy-enhanced mode.” Essentially when you select this, YouTube won’t collect information about your visitors unless they play the video.

Okay, now that you know how to add Youtube videos to your blog, it’s time to get started on creating awesome content.

We can help with this.

Did you like learning how to add Youtube videos to your blog? Here are more articles all about videos, images and more.

How to Leverage Video Content on Your Blog for SEO
4 Ways to Make Your Blog Images Pop
Free Images for your Blog: 7 Awesome Sources

This article was originally written in May 2019, and updated in 2020 to help you!

How to Write Your First Roundup Post and get More Traffic

How to Write an Amazing Roundup Post

Have you ever seen a roundup post?

Round up posts are essentially “roundups” of great content in a particular industry or topic area. For example, “10 Brilliant Blogging ‘How-To’ Posts You MUST Read” would be a roundup of, well, 10 blogging how-to posts that other people have written.

Other examples are my roundup post: “9 stupid things speakers do on stage” or “21 Traffic Building Tips from professional bloggers” on this site.

Roundup posts are a little more work to create, so let’s start with the big question…

Why write a roundup post?

Unlike, you sharing your opinion on your blog site, a Roundup post aggregates many opinions and gives your readers a broader set of solutions. But there are more advantages than just a better post:

  • You can build relationships with other bloggers or authors.
  • The people you quote are motivated to share your article with their followers.
  • You position yourself as an authority in your niche.
  • You are leveraging other people’s content — less work for you!

If this sounds good, let’s clarify the two main approaches to writing your first roundup post:

Use existing content. You put on your Columbo trench coat and start collecting tips, tricks and insights already published on other blogs.

Interview experts. This second approach takes a bit more work, but will result in new content that you “own.” For example, you could interview authors about their advice on publishing your first book, or financial experts to get their best advice about saving for retirement.

In this post we will focus mostly on the first method: collecting great content into on themed post.

Steps to Write an Amazing Content Roundup Post

Alright, let’s go over the basics first.

Here we go…

Step #1: Find some great posts

You can’t write a roundup without great content to share. You probably already read other blogs in your niche – start with those. I like to create a quick spreadsheet format, starting with my favourite blog posts listed down the left-hand side.

From there, you can branch out a bit. Search well-known blogs in your industry for their best stuff. Use a tool like BuzzSumo to find articles with a high share count.

You can also use a tool like Klout to find popular articles.

 

Roundup Content Using Klout

 

Remember: Quality > Quantity.

You only want a handful of truly great articles.

Start with StumbleUpon or Quora to discover the questions people are asking about your topic area…

To help find posts in the future, set up a Feedly account, and follow blogs in your niche or topic area. Feedly makes it easy to scroll through the latest posts from each source and allows you to jump to the author’s site or share the post.

Feedly is a great tool for quickly scanning dozens of blogs

Step #2: Write the post and cite the authors

When curating content like this, you want to make sure you cite the authors. After all, the whole purpose is to get them to (hopefully) share it with their followers and bring you traffic.

Don’t just say “this post” or “a post I found.” Instead, say “This post by XYZ author talks about how to do XYZ.” Say the authors’ name or the blog’s name, and link to their homepage if available.

Remember: The better you make the author look, the greater the chance they’ll share the post.

For example, look at how Chris Garrett gives loads of credit to Digg – even so far as using their name as a header.

Content Roundup Example

 

Step #3: Be consistent

While you don’t have to publish more than one roundup post, an ongoing blog post every week or every month is the most effective option for growth.

In fact, consistently publishing roundup posts not only helps keep your existing readers around, but it brings new ones in, too.

If you do a weekly roundup, publish it at the same time every week. Your followers will begin to expect it and come back.

Hey, we know how tough it can be to keep up with publishing new content. We can help with that.

Step #4: Reach out to the authors

After writing your post, don’t forget to tell the authors about it. You can send them an email or tag them on social media.

When writing an email, try something like this (customizing the brackets):

Subject: I loved your blog post

Body:

“Hey, [Name]!

I’m writing to let you know I really enjoyed reading your post, [Post Title]. I particularly enjoyed the part about [something you liked about their article].

In fact, I liked it so much that I added it to my [weekly] roundup on [roundup topic]. You can check it out here:

[Link to roundup post]

I’d love to get your opinion on it!

Cheers,

[Your Name]

P.S. Here’s a handy pre-populated tweet if you’d like to share it.”

Note: You can create the pre-populated tweet using Click to Tweet.

Another option

Who said there’s anything wrong with a little self-promotion?

If you’ve got a bulk of content on your own blog on similar content, go ahead and create a roundup of your own posts.

Here are just a few reasons this is a great option:

  • It helps reduce your bounce rate (that means how many visitors navigate away from your page after only viewing a single page)
  • It demonstrates your expertise on a subject
  • It’s a good way to let new followers or readers get to know what you’re all about

If self-promotion isn’t your thing, we can help promote your blogs, too. Here’s how.

Content Roundup Post Examples

Finally, here are a few examples of big blogs using content roundups to help give you some inspiration:

Conclusion

Content roundups are sometimes seen as a cheap way to get views. But doing them right gets you authority and traffic, hands down. As long as you only deliver quality content and actually handpick the content you show, you’ll do just fine.

Will you start writing content roundups now? Share them in the comments to help inspire other readers!

If you liked learning about how to create an amazing roundup post, check out more posts on creating great content:

How to Guarantee Your Blog Posts Look Amazing on Social Media
21 clever ways to attract more readers and boost blog traffic this year
10 surprisingly simple tune-ups to make your blog sexy (and get more blog traffic)

This article was originally published in February 2017, but we’ve updated it in May 2020 just for you.

Hiring a Blog Writer? Here’s What to Look For

Hiring a Blog Writer? Here's What to Look For

You’ve got a blog. You’ve written six posts, but now the inevitable time crunch is happening.

You know your blog is a great way to attract interested prospects and build a list of valuable followers.

But, a week goes by, and then another…and

no blog post.

Two more weeks and despite your best intentions…still no blog post.

We see it all the time: abandoned blogs. They still command a place on your menu bar, but nobody’s home.

Over time, you’ll start to see the consequences of an abandoned blog.

Your readers need to be well-fed! They’re not going to keep coming back if there’s nothing new to come back for…

Not to mention, a regularly updated blog is great for SEO. But more on that another time…

For now, let’s focus on what you can do about your abandoned blog.

One solution? Hire a blog writer.

Sounds simple, right?

You hire someone to write your posts. You sit back, the posts come in, you get more engagement and more business.

But, whoa there Silver!

There are a few things to consider before going down the freelancer highway and starting to read resumes. First, there’s one big question to ask:

Should you hire a blog writer?

As tempting as it might seem to hire a blog writer, you should first consider how important it is to use your own voice in your blog posts.

If you have a content blog sharing great advice, maybe it doesn’t matter so much who wrote it, as long as the content is unique and the writing is high quality.1Two good examples of this are inkbotdesign.com or contentmarketinginstitute.com.

On the other hand, if you are the brand, then maybe having someone else write your blog isn’t the best idea. A freelance writer is unlikely to accurately mimic your style of writing or humour and certainly can’t match your knowledge.

It IS possible to find a great match with freelancers. After all, ghostwriters have written many of the best-selling autobiographies. At BlogWorks we take the time to develop a complete profile, including your ideal customer, competitors, and business objectives.

But it could also mean higher costs and a longer search process.

A common strategy we use at BlogWorks is to write content pieces, not personality pieces.

A good example of this is Jon Morrow, who writes brilliant posts about his take on blogging, life after his accident, and “living in paradise.”2Jon Morrow talks about how to quit your job and get paid to change the world in this post: www.problogger.com/how-to-quit-your-job-move-to-paradise-and-get-paid-to-change-the-world You’ll also find many freelancers contributing great how-to content to Morrow’s SmartBlogger blog.3Morrow’s Smart Blogger blog is packed with tips to help freelance writers succeed

Hiring a Blog Writer? Here's What to Look For

What to look for in a blog writer

Before you start posting your job or searching forums for writers, it’s important to know what you’re looking for.

Just like shopping for groceries, if you don’t start with a list it could be an expensive trip to the store.

Your list of requirements will be unique, based on the content expertise you are looking for, but here’s a good list to start with:

  • Writing skills: As basic as it sounds, there’s nothing more frustrating than bad grammar from a “professional writer.” If you really want to test if applicants are detail-oriented, in your next job posting insert this instruction: “Please mention ‘Blue Moon’ in your application.” If you don’t see “Blue Moon” mentioned in their application it could mean they won’t pay attention to details in your work.
  • Basic knowledge: As a minimum, your freelancer should have proven experience writing similar posts and basic knowledge of your industry.
  • Confident writing voice: It’s great to be accurate, but a big challenge for any blog is to stop readers from clicking away. Look for a unique writing style and the ability to improve your writing with examples, analogies, and metaphors.
  • Commitment to quality: In your interview process, give some feedback. How your freelancer receives your advice is one of the best measures of how well they will work out.

How to get started

We published a detailed post about job posting boards, forums, and even searching for Twitter to find freelancers. If you’re ready to find that perfect writer, that’s a good place to start.

Adding to that post, there is, of course, the Mack truck of freelancing, Upwork4UpWork is our go-to source for hiring market researchers, graphic designers, and hiring for other long-term and one-off jobs.. At BlogWorks, we use Upwork every month to hire freelancers for market research, graphic design, and other one-off jobs.

Want to learn more about finding writers on other job boards? Check this out.

The tip we most often share about using Upwork is to use the applicant filters. There, you can individually invite the freelancers you are most interested in working with (as opposed to letting Upwork send you applicants.)

Invite the right applicants to write

For example, if hiring a blog writer, I would follow this simple routine:

  1. Post the job. You can start with this being a one-off job and set the price level as “intermediate.
  2. When you move to “Invite freelancers”, immediately open “Filters” and start selecting the criteria you are looking for. You can even select your country of choice.
  3. Once you have selected your filter criteria, Upwork will start displaying the freelancers that fit your criteria. This is where you invite the best applicants to apply.

Check out the video below for a step by step guide on using Upwork.

The most remarkable aspect of Upwork is the speed at which you can go from job posting to communicating with qualified applicants. And because you’ve posted a one time job (as opposed to an ongoing contract), your risk is pretty minimal.

Another option? Hire BlogWorks to write high-traffic blog posts that attract more readers and convert more business. We take the time to understand your unique blogging goals and to customize our approach to every article. We also track your blog article performance and conversion on articles. Our goal is to give you a turn-key solution that drives more traffic to your revenue pages.

Oh, and of course we can promote your blogs too. Our team of local writers uses the best of your blog content to write and post daily announcements on social media. Click here if you’re dying to know more.

Want to write articles yourself? Download our Ultimate Writing Template.

Whether you hire a blog writer or commit to writing all of your posts, either way, committing to a consistent schedule of publishing is important. The worst option is to have an orphan blog on your site collecting dust.

Your readers want to learn from you and be inspired. Now, get publishing.

Did you like learning about what to look for in a blog writer? You won’t want to miss these posts either:

7 Ways to Make Your Blog Stand Out from the Crowd by Being Different
11 Blogging Statistics That Might Surprise You
9 Big Blogging Mistakes You Need to Avoid in 2020

This article was originally published on February 6, 2018, but we spruced it up in May 2020 just for you.

How to Build Your Perfect Website Performance Dashboard in Just 5 Minutes

How to Build Your Perfect Website Performance Dashboard

You’ve spent money on your website.

You’ve invested hours into your blog.

Now it’s time to track the results.

Just like any part of your business, if you want to improve performance you first need to know where you’re at. These are often called KPI’s, or Key Performance Indicators.

Enter your website performance dashboard.

This dashboard will give you the most important numbers you need to track and warn you when you need to make changes.

At BlogWorks, we are checking our website performance dashboard and it’s one of the first things we recommend our clients create.

It’s Monday, you walk into your office…

It’s Monday morning, you’re updating your list for the week and you stop.

There it is—that item you’ve been putting off for weeks: “update website.” Every week you’ve moved it to the next week; not sure how to start. Should you do a major overhaul (ugh!) or does your site need tweaking?

The problem isn’t your website. The problem is you don’t have the right information.

You need good information to make good decisions

Now imagine a different scene…

It’s Monday morning, you walk into your office and there’s a single page report lying on your desk. You smile.

It’s your website performance dashboard and it quickly gives you all the numbers you need to make good decisions. Cool, right?

But, before we get into what goes into your website performance dashboard, let’s look at a common mistake.

It’s called scope creep.

Avoid scope creep

As you start to build your website performance dashboard it’s easy to go too far.

For example, you want to know about traffic going to your site in the last 30 days. Great! But do you look at unique visitors (“users”), or do you look at pageviews, bounce rate, session duration, country of origin and best time of day to publish?

There are hundreds of data points on your site and trying to track any more than the essentials will quickly turn your website performance dashboard into a failed experiment.

Trying to track too much data is a recipe for disaster.

It’s like the dashboard in your car. There are hundreds of moving parts in your car, but to drive safely and make good driving decisions all you need are: speed, fuel level, distance (odometer), and maybe tachometer. All other indicators are hidden (like low oil warning light) until you need them.

Anything more is scope creep.

The perfect website performance dashboard needs to do 3 things:

  1. Give you important feedback on your online performance
  2. Be easy to update
  3. Indicate problem areas that need fixing.

The other problem with scope creep is the time it takes to update data.

The dashboard I’m recommending requires pulling data from multiple sources, so the more data points you collect, the more time this will take, and the more likely you are to stop updating it.

In the past, I have built crazy-complicated dashboards. Sure, they were full of great information, but it was a hassle to pull all the data, and inevitably they all failed.

In this article, I’ll show you how to build your website performance dashboard in just 5 minutes.

First, let’s look at where this puppy is going to live.

Where to keep your new dashboard?

There are lots of places where you could keep your new spreadsheet:

  • On your computer
  • Dropbox
  • Google drive

At BlogWorks we use Google Docs for all of the information we share with members of our team. It’s easy to use, you can select who gets to view, comment, or edit the document and there’s virtually no risk of losing the document or wasting time searching for the document on your hard drive.

Plus, it’s free when you are starting out and don’t have a lot of data to store.

The perfect starter kit

To get started, the perfect website performance dashboard will have only 3 categories:

  1. Mailing list size
  2. Website performance
  3. Social media followers

At the time of writing, I’m delivering two webinars a month, so at BlogWorks we also track webinar performance.

Here’s an example of what your first website performance dashboard can look like:

How to Build Your Perfect Website Performance Dashboard
Example of your first website performance dashboard

Let’s get into more detail on each category.

Mailing list size and growth.

Your mailing list is one of the most valuable marketing tools you have. Unlike social media, emails from your mailing list can get directly into your prospects’ Inbox. You can deliver invitations, follow up with leads, and nurture your list with new blog posts.

Even if you only have a few hundred on your list now, growing your list should be a business goal. Here’s why…

As our world rushes to get online, most business owners are reconsidering their business model. Traditional businesses, like lawyers, physiotherapists, retail stores – even house painting – are finding ways to attract customers online. In many cases, those businesses are now delivering their service online.

How to Build Your Perfect Website Performance Dashboard
Building a larger email list means you have more options in your business for future growth.

Having a mailing list makes all of those changes possible.

The sooner you start building your mailing list the sooner you can start building online revenues for your business.

The sooner you start building your mailing list the sooner you can start building online revenues for your business Click To Tweet

At BlogWorks, we track the total list size every week. And because we have multiple lead magnets, we track the number of people who accepted each opt-in offer.

Website performance

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with Google Analytics because it tracks all activity on your site. That won’t help you!

Most business owners simply need to track:

  • Number of unique visitors (called “users”)
  • Goals

Periodically you should also be checking:

  • Top blog posts
  • Source of traffic
  • Percent of mobile users
  • Bounce rate
  • Conversion on top blog posts

Here’s how to find unique visitors:

Log into Google Analytics. Click Audience > Overview

In Google language “user” means the number of people who visited your site at least once (it doesn’t include multiple visits)

How to create goals in your website

To simplify your website performance tracking you need to create goals within Google Analytics. In WordPress, this is a one-time exercise that starts the data collection so in one click you can get all the numbers you need to add to your website performance dashboard.

Typical goals will include traffic to your:

  • sales page (consulting, book, products, etc.)
  • prices page
  • thank you page (for an opt-in)
  • special offer page
  • contact page
Once you have your goals created it’s easy to update your dashboard

Creating a new goal is easy:

  • Click the Gear button (bottom-right corner)
  • Click Goals > “+ NEW GOAL”
  • Click “Custom” (the last option in the list) > CONTINUE
  • Enter the name of your new goal (like “Contact page”) and for Type, click “Destination” > CONTINUE
  • Under “Goal Details”, enter the last part of the URL for the page you want to track, like “/contact” > SAVE
With a few steps, you can create a new goal and easily track your website performance

Automatically Receive your Google Analytics Report

If you want to have a bit more detail you can easily set up Google Analytics to automatically send the standard website dashboard to you on a regular basis.

Here’s how to set that up:

  • Log into Google Analytics.
  • Click on Audience > Overview.
  • In the top-right corner, click “Share”. Fill in the form that pops up including selecting the frequency you want and you’re all set.
It’s easy to set up to receive your Google Dashboard every month

Social media followers

Each social channel has its own measures of “success”. On Facebook, it is followers, likes on posts, comments, and shares. LinkedIn tracks connections, followers as well as likes on posts and shares.

That’s great to know if you’re making decisions on what posts to create next, but it’s too much information for a regular dashboard update.

I recommend your dashboard only tracks your number of followers (connections in LinkedIn.)

Create a system

Now that you have your first website performance dashboard created it’s time to add a system (or SOP Standard Operating Procedure) to make updating it a no brainer.

The worst thing to do is go to all the work to build the dashboard and then stop updating it.

If you are going to update the website performance dashboard yourself, one trick is to block time to make it happen. Create a calendar appointment for 15 minutes that repeats.

Now that you have your website performance dashboard you will want to keep it updated

You can also create a reminder that repeats.

If you have an assistant or use remote freelancers, this is a perfect task to outsource.

Your business will grow because of your hard work, but also because of good information. Just like knowing your financial information you should also be tracking your online performance.

With a little effort, you can easily create your first website performance dashboard and start using it to make better, more informed, decisions.

Liked this article? Here are 3 more all about growing your business with a blog:

SEO 101: using keywords in your blog post
How to hire an awesome writer for your blog
57 remarkable statistics and insights about blogging