fbpx

A Survival Guide for Small business Owners During a Crisis (or any time)

A survival guide for small business owners during a crisis (or any time)

The world has changed.

And a lot of those changes are permanent.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us (if you weren’t already) to work from home and to depend exclusively on online communications.

It’s not business as usual. And it won’t be for a long time.

As a business owner, I have employees and contractors that rely on my business for some or all of their income. Fortunately, BlogWorks is an online company. We have an office, but other than two of us, we all work remotely.

As an online company, we’ve organized our systems to connect with our clients and team members from anywhere and at any time.

What about you?

If you are now working from home for the first time, or you’ve had a home office for years, now is a great time to revisit the equipment and systems you need to operate effectively in our increasingly online world.

This is my survival guide for small business owners in a crisis (or any time).

1. Watch your numbers

If you want to grow your business, start with good data. Like driving a car, you need a dashboard with feedback to know how you are performing.

Putting together even a simple weekly dashboard can help identify where you are wasting money and effort, but also be a good motivator for you and your team.

Here are some of the basic numbers to watch:

  • Break-even point. The number of customers it takes to cover your monthly operating expenses. If you’re launching a new online course or subscription service, calculate your BEP to know what volume you’ll need to get in the black.
    • For example, if video production, hosting services (video and learning platform), advertising and hours of an assistant all come to $4,500, at $500 per course, you’re first 9 customers cover your costs.
  • Life-time value of a customer. This is simple math: total revenue expected from an average customer less acquisition cost = LTV of a customer.
    • You need to know the dollar value of a typical customer to make decisions about advertising (if you spend $45 in Facebook advertising to acquire a customer is that worth it?), investing in a new online course, or hiring a sales assistant.
  • Margin on sales. If you sell an online course or run a subscription service (software, services, maintenance, etc.) it’s easy to calculate and monitor the margin (revenue less variable expenses) of a sale. This neat tool from Shopify lets you calculate gross margin.

    Knowing your margin on sales is a good first step to a realistic projection of profits
    Knowing your margin on sales is a good first step to a realistic projection of profits
  • ROI on advertising. Been boosting ads on Facebook or paying for a Google Adwords listing? It’s time to put a dollar return on that investment. This free tool will help you run scenarios of ad spend, clicks and sales.
    • If you’re using an advertising consultant, they should be providing tracking numbers, if not, hire a consultant to put these numbers together for you. Don’t throw more money at advertising without knowing your numbers!

      Return on Investment
      Like any investment, the measure of success with Facebook advertising has to be ROI on spend
  • Return on social media. Are you pounding away at building an Instagram following, hoping it will turn into sales? Or starting every day checking Facebook updates?
    • A quick visit to Google Analytics will show the traffic social media brings in. Traffic is only one measure, social media can provide other benefits like: brand awareness, nurturing your followers, and announcing launches and specials.
Social Media Traffic
If you are investing in social media marketing you need to know what traffic it creates

2. Build a morning routine

I can’t think of any habit more important to develop than a morning routine. A simple morning routine can get you ready to “go to work” and prepare you for a productive day. New research from the Journal of Management found that “reattachment” to work in the morning is critical of high productivity.

“Those who consciously took a few minutes to mentally reattach to their work by reflecting on their goals and priorities experienced ‘a cascade of positive experiences during the day.’” – Inc Magazine

The idea of a morning routine is to reduce the influence of mood, or quality of sleep and to ensure that you can maximize your productivity in what are typically the most productive hours of your day.

Some things to include in your routine:

  • Before you go to bed make a quick note of the first work you’ll tackle in the morning.
  • Wake up at the same time.
  • Limit social media or reading/watching the news.
  • Inspire and ground yourself. I prefer exercise, but meditation, reading, music, or walking are all great ways to ease into your morning work.
  • Eat like an athlete – avoid sugars, simple carbs and fatty foods – instead choose complex carbs, protein and fiber to enjoy steady energy lasting all morning.
  • Transition to work time at the same time everyday. (see #5 How to organize your home office, below).
  • Work from your Flight Plan (#3, below).
Oatmeal
Start your day with a simple meal of complex carbohydrates and enjoy more consistent energy through your morning.

3. Plan like a pilot

Pilots would never leave the runway without a clear destination and you should never start your week without clear goals for the week.

I wrote about planning like a pilot in my book Give me a Break. The idea is pretty simple…

Take 5 minutes every Monday morning (I walk you through the process in this post) to think through where you want to “land” on Friday. This quick planning routine can be the difference between a chaotic week of distractions and feeling productive on and on your game.

You can record your “Flight Plan” in Evernote, a journal, or create a Google Doc. What’s important is you think through a short-list of goals that will move your company forward this week.

For larger “boulders” (big projects that take many days/months to complete), list the specific objective you need to complete this week. For example, if updating your website, the goal this week might be to research competitor’s sites and make a list of features you want to change on your site.

Flightplan
Your Flight Plan for the week tells you what’s most important and where you need to “land” by Friday.

Now, here’s the real value of your “Flight Plan” – catch yourself coming off a conference call or wrapping up a task and go to your Flight Plan for direction. Between every task is an opportunity to change course back to what’s most important for your business.

4. Learn how to outsource

As CEO of your business, you shouldn’t be spending your time learning how to do jobs you can easily outsource. That stifles growth and wastes your time.

The most obvious jobs to outsource are technical tasks like: updating your website, video editing, publishing your blog, or graphic design. But, you should also look at:

  • Bookkeeping
  • Editing your writing
  • Writing your blog (we can do that!)
  • Updating old blog posts that are underperforming (we can do that as well!)
  • Research for webinars and articles.
  • Editing photographs to include in your blog or on your website
  • Video shoots for sales videos, Facebook advertising, or landing pages on your website.
  • Building email sequences to send to people who opt-in to your list.
  • Purging old contacts in your mailing list
  • Creating a new lead magnet for your website

At BlogWorks we typically hire freelancers on Upwork and Fiverr. Other freelancer sites include: Freelancer, TopTal, or WorkHoppers.

The trick with using a freelance tool like Upwork is to use filters to quickly reduce the field to the best applicants

A good test of outsourcing a task is to calculate the cost (at your hourly rate) of learning the skills and completing the task, compared to hiring a freelancer. For example, it will take you 4 hours to learn how to master even the basic video editing skills using software like Camtasia (for PC) or Screenflow (for Mac).

Before you invest your hours learning how to do technical work, like video editing, compare that to hiring an experienced freelancer and getting a professional product.

At $100 per hour, that’s a $400 initial value of lost time. A competent video editor can take a 3 minute video, edit, add music, your intro and outro, upload to YouTube – even include a thumbnail for about $60. Plus, your efforts will look amateurish (I know I’ve tried it) and require ongoing learning.

5. Organize your home office

The mind loves distractions. Something as simple as unopened mail on your desk, or a stack of business cards from a networking session you attended months ago can grab your attention as often as every 12 minutes.

“Those distracted by emails and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ, twice that found in studies on the impact of smoking marijuana.” – London’s Institute of Psychiatry

The good news is that a 10 minute home office declutter session can transform your distraction desk to a place of productivity. Here’s how to get started:

declutter your business space at home
Caption With a little effort you can declutter your workspace and double your productivity.
  • Invest in good quality storage and furniture. A comfortable work-chair, solid desk with bookshelves and simple filing cabinet (I prefer two or three drawer units that fit under the desk) can transform your workspace.
  • Put all cords, charging cables and computer paraphernalia in one container and out of sight (for my home-office I invested in matching bookcases, the bottom of one has double cupboard-style doors where I stash stuff I rarely need.)
  • Create a system for archiving handwritten notes and paper (see Evernote, below).
  • Remove anything that looks like unfinished work. This could be client files, broken eyeglasses, unopened mail or sticky-notes. There will always be distractions like these, now is the time to find a home for them.
  • Archive completed work. Client files, project notes, tax returns and research papers can all be archived in inexpensive banker boxes, labeled and stored out-of-sight. Your goal is to dedicate 100% of your attention on the work that matters today.

6. Master online tools

If you’ve been hiding from learning basic online tools, those days are gone. The world is getting online – just look at the explosion of individuals, businesses, and governments scrambling to learn how to use tools like zoom.us during the Covid-19 pandemic.

If you are looking for an easy new way to find or create images and audio, we recommend Adobe products. You can find all of their creative software packages here.

Not sure you have what you need? Here are some of the basics you should have in your office:

  • Good WIFI connection. Video conferencing tools, like zoom, require high-speed bandwidth. Use free tools like this one to test your WIFI speeds and call your carrier if in doubt.
  • Video conferencing. It’s hard to beat the convenience of jumping on a quick video call to meet a new business connection or sort out some work details with a team member. We moved to zoom 4 years ago. The tool is easy to use, has lots of features and the low-cost account allows for unlimited calls with lots of features like break-out rooms, chat, polls and more. We use the webinar account for our BlogWorks broadcasts.
  • Audio recording. Now that you’re doing more online conference calls you’ll need a good microphone. The earbuds that came with your phone are at least better than nothing. Or upgrade to a good lavalier-style microphone.
  • Lighting kit. You are going to be video conferencing a lot more and a simple lighting kit will remove distracting shadows, help with early morning or late night calls (helpful if you work in different time zones) and set you up for recording videos.
A couple of inexpensive LED lights will make your presentation look more professional
  • Video hosting. If you are recording video for your first online course or to add to your website you need to first store that clip on a hosting service. We’ve been using Vimeo for years and love how simple it is to upload and organize all our recordings.
Vimeo is a great place to put your business videos
Your video hosting site allows you to organize your collections
  • Team communications. Organize all your team communications and reporting with a free account on Slack. It’s easy to use and you can upgrade or third party apps at any time.
  • SMS messaging. It’s hard to beat text messages for getting the attention of a contractor, supplier or even an employee distracted with a big project. If you’re using text messaging a lot, load the app on your computer to make it easier to share documents, images and so you can type with your keyboard.
  • Storage. Moving your business to online will mean you need to share documents (see Google Docs next), images, reports, PDF’s and photos with clients and team members. Email is not the way to do that. Dropbox allows you to control what stays on your computer (so you can free up precious storage space) and who you share documents with.
  • Google Docs. It’s hard to beat the ubiquitous suite of Google’s free tools for creating and sharing documents. You can quickly create and share documents, spreadsheets and choose who gets access and can either view, comment, or edit.
  • Evernote. I haven’t found a better tool for organizing ideas, capturing handwritten notes from a meeting or snagging web pages (Evernote can strip off all advertising). Michael Hyatt calls Evernote his “digital brain” for good reason. Start with a free account, upgrade if you want to access your notes when you are offline.
Evernote is brilliant for capturing your handwritten notes and making them easy to retrieve
Evernote is brilliant for capturing your handwritten notes and making them easy to retrieve

7. Separate work and home

Now that you have your home office set up with easy access to the world and the ability to record videos, write your next book and grind through a mountain of work you need boundaries. Working long hours without clear lines between work time and home time is a recipe for burnout, not to mention the impact it will have on immediate relationships.

But, it’s hard to have work/life separation when your home office is down the hall from your kitchen.

Make your home office feel like your business office
With a little effort you can create a home office that feels like a destination, separate from the rest of your home.

Here’s how to get started:

  • Have all your work stuff (records, chair, desk, recycling, etc.) in one place instead of spread out in your house. Ideally, have a door on that room that you close when you’re not “at the office.”
  • Set hours for “going” to work and packing up at the end of the day.
  • Dress for work. Research shows that when we dress to go to work it can put us in the mind space to be more productive. “Working in your pajamas may seem like fun for a couple of days, but you’ll soon find any productivity wanes,” writes Joshua Duvall.
  • Set your phone to turn off alerts an hour before you go to bed.
  • Avoid checking email or phone messages during non-work hours.

Your success as a business owner depends on your ability to focus and get work down as efficiently as possible. And that includes updating your equipment and systems.

Most of the suggestions in this guide can be accomplished in a few minutes or with a quick visit to Amazon. Some (like creating boundaries between work and home) will take longer to practice and develop into habits.

Either way, your investment into productivity will pay dividends for years to come. It’s time to get started.

Did you enjoy this article? Check out these:

11 Highly Productive Things Small Business Owners Should Do During A Crisis
Why Do Best-Selling Authors Brown, Kiyosaki, Rubin, Maxwell, and Godin All Blog?
4 Social Media Activities You Should Be Doing in 2020

Photo of oatmeal by Jane Duursma on Unsplash
Photo of home office by Michael Soledad on Unsplash

11 Highly Productive Things Small Business Owners Should Do During A Crisis

highly productive things small-business owners should do during a crisis.

“A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.”
Henry Kissinger

There are some things you simply can’t fully prepare for. Like being a first-time parent, the start of a new small business, and a worldwide pandemic.

At some point, we can all look back with time-earned wisdom and find lessons in these life events. In the meantime, we need to respond. Take action – as unplanned and responsive as it might be – we are moving forward.

Like all cycles, we will get through this and there will be “the other side.” And like all cycles, some will be prepared and ready, and some will take much longer to find their feet.

This happened during the devastating influenza pandemic of 1918, the great depression in the 1930s, all the recessions in the ’80s and ’90s, the sub-prime slaughter of 2007/2008 and now during the 2020 pandemic of COVID-19.

As small business owners, we have a double responsibility. To our own health and families and to our responsibilities with our clients, employees, and suppliers.

When I was building Adventure Network I had all of those responsibilities, plus the weight of massive unsecured debt and crippling monthly bills (it’s not cheap to run 4 airplanes and the ground and aircrew to make it all happen.) I had to keep moving forward.

At BlogWorks I have employees and contractors. And, of course, I have our wonderfully loyal clients to think about. Shrinking back and waiting for the inevitable tide of world events to pass over me, like holding your breath waiting for the ocean to dry up, ain’t an option.

You have to keep moving forward.

Here are 11 things you can be doing now to keep your business vital and growing and prepared for the other side of a crisis.

1. Keep communication open

When a crisis hits it’s time to increase your communications. Keep your employees, contractors and suppliers included in any changes you are planning. The more people know about what is going on the more they can prepare and support you.

During the COVID-19 crisis, we started a weekly email to our clients and weekly updates to our team of 16 employees and contractors. The goal was to be proactive and share news about what we were working on. We also launched a survey to our list to learn about their blog preferences (the results will be turned into a blog post) and our writers to learn what writing skills training we can offer.

2. Kill some costs

This is a great time to review monthly expenses for your small business and look for areas to cut costs. One of my monthly routines is to run a highlighter over my company credit card statement, looking for any subscription charges.

I keep a running tally of subscription costs for Infusionsoft, Onehub, ScheduleOnce, Zoom, Feedly, Apple, Google, Dropbox, Siteground, etc. plus office rent, phone, and internet. Then I divide that total by the average income I get from clients—that’s how many clients it takes just to keep the lights on. The short-term pain of cutting one subscription can free up much-needed cash and leave more in your pocket.

3. Write more

People have more time to spend online, to read and to discover new solutions to old problems (some Internet sites are experiencing double their normal volume of traffic). Set aside time every morning to write and, if you have a blog, publish more often. Here’s the template I use for every blog. Remember, not every piece has to be a massive, epic treatise – consistency is often more important than word count.

Use a template to quickly move your mind dump of ideas into an organized flow.

4. Share your thoughts.

Maybe this is the time to get personal. Share your thoughts and what your experience has been with this crisis. This might be a departure from your small business’ normal topics (like this article) but it could also be well received by your followers and fans. After all, people buy from people they know, like and trust and this could be your time to build that relationship. You might get inspired by thought-provoking articles about coronavirus on medium.com.

5. Update your website

You know that thing that hangs out on the Internet that you swear someday you’ll update. Yeah, I’m talking about your website. If you’ve been putting off updating your website I have news for you…it won’t get any easier with time.

Not sure how to start? Here’s a quick checklist:

  • Update your contact page: is it inviting? Does it offer a simple checklist of options?
  • If you’re a keynote speaker, consultant, author or coach, start with your “About” page. The “About” page or “Our team” pages often get lots of traffic (people want to know who they are buying from).
  • Check the little copyright notice web designers love to put in the footer – does it show the current year?
  • Low-traffic pages don’t do you or your small business a service. Remove (in WordPress you can change these to Draft status) any pages that are no longer needed.
  • Set up Google Analytics to send you a monthly dashboard report on traffic. You’ve spent good money to build your site, now you need to know what it’s doing (or not doing) for you.
Google Analytics is important for tracking your small business website
In just 2 minutes you can create a monthly dashboard report sent to your email.

6. Connect more

Follow-up to emails, thank people for commenting and respond to social media followers. Your response might come at the perfect time to make a big difference in someone’s life.

Keap Founder, Clate Mask was quick to kick off emails to clients offering support and grant money during the COVID-19 crisis.

7. Strengthen your body

Long hours watching Netflix is a bad recipe for good health. You have fewer excuses and a whole lot more time to get out for a walk, jump on your bike or bliss out with guided meditation.

The good news is that as little as 20 minutes of daily exercise that gets your heart rate up and works your muscles can make a big difference. Just like writing, it’s more about quality than volume. Make it a morning routine and your body and mind will thank you. This 5-day series designed for busy people is a good place to start.

Martin Gibala explains how HIT training can give you big returns with very little time commitment.

8. Learn how to host online meetings

If your small business has not dived into the world of online meetings maybe now is the time to learn. I use zoom.us daily for meetings with staff, customers, and webinars (and now family). It’s surprisingly easy and robust. You might even have a client willing to move a planned event to online. A free plan allows for 40-minute calls – plenty to get you started.

Zoom is a great tool for small business owners working from home
Zoom makes it easy to jump on a quick call with your team or plan a webinar for clients.

9. Read more

Now is a great time to dig into the pile of unread books by your bed, and expand your thinking (and get off Netflix). I’m deep into The Choice by Edith Eger a breathtakingly beautiful work about “our capacity to transcend even the greatest of horrors and to use that suffering for the benefit of others” (Desmond Tutu), Love Yourself Like Your Life Depends on It by Kamal Ravikant, and Zero to One by Peter Thiel.

“The future is uncertain… but this uncertainty is at the very heart of human creativity.”
Ilya Prigogine

10. Launch a survey

Now could be the perfect time to reach out to your followers with a needs assessment survey. Maybe you want to know how they are using your product or service (do they order online?), is there a demand for new products or what topics they want you to address in future webinars. Survey Monkey makes it easy to create, launch and promote a survey (you can also use their app to run surveys in Slack to your team.)

If you are going to launch a survey, here are a few tips:

  • Keep your survey to 12 questions and if the survey only takes 2 minutes to complete, tell them in the invitation, like this: “Here’s the survey (2 minutes).”
  • Start with easy multiple-choice questions, like: what services have you used in the past?
  • Keep personal questions to the end (remember if you don’t ask for their name you won’t be able to match responses to respondents.)
  • Limit open-ended questions, which are harder for people to answer, to 1-2 questions.
  • Offer an incentive. A trick I use is to include a link to a free download in the Thank You message.
Set up a survey for followers of your small business
Survey Monkey makes it easy to include an incentive at the end of your survey.

11. Look ahead

I’ve been taking time every day to work on my planning. As I’ve shifted the focus for most of my working hours to BlogWorks I’ve realized a number of areas where I need outside help. Maybe you need to be looking at outsourcing some routines, like your blog, your marketing, your website updates or graphic design. This could be the perfect time to learn how to post a job on Upwork or other freelancer sites like Freelancer, TopTal, or WorkHoppers.

When a crisis hits, like COVID-19, it might be the perfect time to invest in strengthening your small business and yourself. As my Mom used to say when life gives you lemons, make lemonade.

Enjoyed this muse? Here are more of my thoughts about being productive – enjoy!

How to make your blog stand out by taking a risk!
How to attract more readers to your blog today.
21 clever ways to attract more readers and boost blog traffic this year.

Photo by Bethany Legg on Unsplash

10 surprisingly simple tune-ups to make your blog sexy (and get more blog traffic)

Make your blog sexy and get better results

We all want more blog traffic.

Way back, when Tyrannosaurs roamed the earth, blogs were personal journals for reflection and maybe for close friends to enjoy.

Not anymore.

Many blogs are for building your brand, attracting business, building your list, and hopefully even growing sales.

But the question is, how to get traffic to your blog in the first place?

In this post, we’re looking at super simple tune-ups to make your blog work better and, maybe, even a bit sexier.

Sound good? Let’s go.

1. Use keywords

Keywords are how organic searches (when someone searches the Internet for a solution, like “gardening supplies”) find you.

You can use keywords in your headline, subheadings and text copy. But stuffing keywords in just for the sake of SEO is bad form and makes your post less attractive and less likely to get shared.

Using the Google Adwords Keyword Planner is a great place to start to find long-tail (low competition, higher conversion) keywords. After that, include those phrases as a natural part of your writing.

2. Powerful headlines

The LAST thing I work on when writing a blog is the headline.

Your headline is the first thing people see in social media posts (after the image), Internet searches, and links from other sites—it’s worth getting it right.

It can make a world of difference when it comes to getting traffic to your blog.

While a headline like, “10 Ways to Deliver Better Customer Service” may be accurate, it’s as boring as ordering a cup of coffee.

So, what’s a better option? Something like this: “10 Ways to Knock the Socks Off Even the Most Reluctant Customer”.

Great headlines include words like this: lists, “you”, “your”, “free”, “how to”, “DIY”, “I/me/my”, “easy”, and “new”

3. Good images

More natural photography can help blog traffic
Stock photography vs. more natural photography

A quick fix for ANY blog is better images.

Try to avoid “stock images” of multi-ethnic teams smiling into the camera-instead look for natural images of real people doing real things.

A quick fix for any blog is better images. Click To Tweet

For posts longer than 400-500 words, insert a second image to break up the text and keep the reader moving.

If you’re serious about your blog, it’s worth getting familiar with basic editing tools like Canva or picmonkey.

If you are looking for an easy new way to find or create images and audio, we recommend Adobe products. You can find all of their creative software packages here.

4. Cross link

Here’s a simple strategy for how to get traffic to your blog and keep readers on your site longer (which is measured as lower Bounce rate in Google Analytics)…

Cross link from one blog post to another. 

Why?

The idea is to invite the reader to learn more about your topic by reading a related post. Like this one, where we offer up 21 blog traffic building tips you can’t miss.

See what we did there?

A simple strategy can keep readers on your site longer Click To Tweet

Start with a short list of 4-5 posts you ideally want every reader to see. Then, link to them whenever it seems like a natural opportunity.

5. Current dates

Consistent publishing dates is a good thing. Just like a magazine, it’s going to be easier to attract followers if they know they can count on the regular issues.

Or course, life happens and you might have a gaps between posts. The good news is, WordPress makes it easy to smooth out your publishing dates and even republish old posts.

Simply open individual posts, change the “Published on:” date and click “Update”.

Presto – your posts are re-dated or older posts are re-published.

Current dates

6. Opt-in is working

When was the last time you opted in to your your own opt-in?

You might be surprised to learn that your invitation isn’t, well, very inviting.

Here are some quick tune-ups for your opt-in sequence:

When was the last time you opted in to your your own opt-in? Click To Tweet
  • An inviting offer – Most people aren’t interested in getting “newsletters” anymore. Try offering “weekly tools and tips”, or “free helpful advice”, or “regular updates”, or simply offer your opt-in gift and let them decide if they want to join your list.
  • Double opt-in instructions – Remember the opt-in isn’t complete until they click on the confirmation email. On your “success” page (that pops up once they enter name and email) instruct them to check their inbox but also to “white list” your emails.
  • Send follow-up emails – Once a person becomes a follower, it’s time to nurture them and invite them to stick around. An email sequence (ideally, you remove them from regular emails while in this “quarantine” period) of 3-5 emails to welcome them and introduce them to your services is a smart way to build loyalty and even move a follower to a buyer.
Example of ‘success’ page and instructions on how to double opt-in
Example of ‘success’ page and instructions on how to double opt-in

If you haven’t started building your mailing list yet, be sure to ask these 5 questions first. 

7. Use the “Featured Image” for your main image

If you’ve ever noticed that the wrong image gets pulled from your blog on Facebook or Twitter, it could be you aren’t using the Featured Image option in WordPress.

“Featured Image” is a selection on the right-hand side of your WordPress editor that allows you to choose one image from your media library for the top of your post, but also to be the thumbnail pulled anytime the link to your post is used (like in Facebook).

The right image could be what makes someone choose your post over someone else’s.

 

Use the Featured Image feature in WordPress to ensure your image is properly pulled into social media
Use the Featured Image feature in WordPress to ensure your image is properly pulled into social media

Not sure if you’re using Featured Image?

Head over to your latest blog post, scroll down, and on the right-hand side you should see a thumbnail of your main image labeled “Featured Image”. Click there, select the image you want from your media file, and you’re set.

8. Social share buttons

When a reader shares your post on Twitter, Facebook, or any social media, they’re exposing your content to their followers.

That’s a good thing. For many bloggers, this is the primary way they get traffic to their blog.

The easier you make it for readers to share your content the better. But tiny icons from now-obscure social media channels, like Yelp and Foursquare, won’t help you get traffic to your blog.

To see what posts are getting the most shares, head over to buzzsumo, drop in your site URL, and you’ll get a list of your top five.

Encouraging sharing can help build blog traffic
The SumoMe social share menu floats on the page as the reader scrolls through your post

We use SumoMe by Noel Kagan – the Social Share menu floats alongside your blog as the reader scrolls down the screen and works perfectly on mobile.

 

Readers can click on these social share options, spreading the word, and getting more blog traffic.

9. Measure results

Google Analytics is your dashboard—it’s the only way to accurately know what’s really going on with your blog traffic, visitor behaviour, history trends, and sources of visitors.

As for opt-ins?

Your CRM (Customer Relations Management software, like Mail Chimp or Aweber) is the only place to accurately measure opt-ins.

If you haven’t been checking Google Analytics, first make sure it’s installed by following these instructions.

Next, get familiar with basics, like:

  • User volume (number of unique visitors),
  • Page views (total pages visited),
  • Bounce rate (percent that leave after one page),
  • Average session duration (time on site),
  • Behaviour (scroll down main menu, on left, and look for box icon > Overview – most viewed pages on site. This is where you can discover which blog posts are most popular.

Want to dive even deeper on this strategy? Check out these 5 quick ways to measure your blog’s performance. 

10. Click to Tweet

The old, manually-loaded “Click To Tweet” was a neat way to get readers to quickly fire off a tweet to point people to your post.

But now there’s a better version, cleverly called Better Click To Tweet. This makes it easier for you to create the tweet as you load your new post into the WordPress editor…You might have noticed a few of those throughout this post.

Once the plugin is installed, a blue bird will appear in your editor menu bar. Highlight and copy the text you want tweeted, click the bird, paste the text where asked and you’re set.

If you’ve gone through this post and realized you haven’t implemented some, or (GASP!) — any — of these strategies, it’s time to get to work!

No more asking how to get traffic to your blog — you know what you need to do.

Liked this post? Got another 5 minutes? Here are 3 more of our most popular posts all about putting your blog to work:

How to (finally) make money with your blog
How to increase blog traffic by almost 30% in only 90 days — a case study
9 blog topic ideas your audience will love

43 random blogging terms you really don’t need to know

43 random blogging terms you really don’t need to know

Personally, I despise people who obfuscate and inveigle with obscure language and acronyms.

You too?

In this article I will attempt to decode and demystify the crazy language surrounding blogging (somebody has to.)

After all, isn’t blogging just about writing great, helpful content that readers love to share?

I think so.

Let’s get into the list of blogging terms (feel free to skip the boring ones)…

A is for Apple

1. Absent – yup, that’s the business owner who’s ambitions exceed their abilities and haven’t learned to outsource. If that’s you, please read this article.

2. Alt tag – Ever wondered why an image shows up in a search? Good chance that’s because some smart cookie added Alt Tags to the image. In WordPress this is super easy (open Media, select the image and add).

I despise people who obfuscate and inveigle with obscure language and acronyms. Click To Tweet

3. Anchor post – this the dandy you wrote one late night, half way through a mellow bottle of Merlot, that – for some miraculous reason – attracted loads of attention (from other Merlot lovers maybe?). Tip: make sure you link to your anchor posts in future articles.

4. Anchor text – these are the neat blue links inside one blog post that link to another page. According to SEO gurus at ahrefs “Google uses external anchor text to help understand what your page is about and also, for which keywords it should rank.” So they are 1) important to create 2) super important to get your post found.

5. Article – Easy one – this is task you wrote on your To-Do list last Thursday. And again Friday. Oh, yeah, and on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday. Oh, damn it! Get writing!

6. Author – Duh.

7. Avatar – This is the person you should have created a perfect description of because you went to that very expensive conference, got SO inspired by the speaker and on the flight home thought “I really need an Avatar!” It’s not complicated: Who is your ideal customer? That’s your avatar.

B is for Boy (okay, okay, it’s also for Blog…and Blogging Terms)

8. Backlink – a link that points to one page, from another page. For example, you can link from your “About” page to a “revenue” page.

9. Blog – A Blog is a gift for the world and for you. Your blog gives you license to write massively irreverent (and occasionally super, super looooong posts) like Tim Urban about whatever got your interest the last time you headed to your local coffee shop. Or to go deep into research, like Maria Popova (7 million readers, thank you very much), or launch an empire like Tim Ferriss (who never returns emails, just saying.)

10. Blogger or Blogging – a person who thinks blogging is a business, when really blogging is a way to make business!

Your blog gives you license to write massively irreverent (and occasionally super, super looooong posts) like Tim Urban about whatever got your interest the last time you headed to your local coffee shop. Click To Tweet

11. Blogosphere – This is the place all good bloggers go to die. Nope, that’s not right. It’s a place where…actually I have no idea, because nobody actually talks that way.

12. Blogroll – This is the list of all your published blog posts. This actually super important, especially if you track traffic, like we do. The good news is you can download this list by simply adding /sitemap_index.xml to the end of your URL (now you have to see ‘U’) and then clicking on (usually) the first link. Cool, huh?

13. Bummer – that’s what happens when you publish your amazing article and…nothing happens. That’s a bummer.

C is for Cataclysmic (and Cat)

14. Calendar – this is what you should be using to plan your next blog post – capiche? Tip: one of our favourite (free) plugins is Editorial Calendar.

15. Category – According to WPBeginner “Categories are meant for broad grouping of your posts. And Tags are meant to describe specific details of your posts.” You must categorize your post, tagging is optional.

16. CMS or Platform – CMS stands for content management system. WordPress is a CMS, so are all the alternatives. Bottom line – you will never use CMS in a sentence.

17. Comments – oh, for goodness sake…I’m not going to insult you with this one. We all know comments are the rare gems we all hope to get!

18. CSS or Stylesheet – has something to do with style sheets and if you have to ask you need to go to ‘O’ and think about outsourcing.

D is for derogatory, aspersing, calumnious, defamatory, insulting, libelous, maligning, slandering, slanderous, vilifying (and, of course, dog)

19. Directory – These are strange and mysterious sites that list your blog as authority site worth a visit. According to theblogpressccom, “These are websites which categorize blogs under many different categories.” Good luck with that!

F – it’s too tempting, so we’ll skip this one

H is for being Human with a touch of Humour (while being honest)

image describing how to view source code

20. Header – this is the top image for each post. Your header image should “pulled” with your link and show up in your social media posts.

21. Hyperlink – is the clickable content within a web page (typically colored blue) that takes the user to another page, website, or within part of the same page.

22. HTML – this is short for Hypertext Markup Language – the language used to write web pages. In WordPress, if you select “Text” you can view the html code and make simple changes, like highlighting text with a background color. This is what that would look like (Here are the colour choices)

<div style=”padding: 12px; background-color: #ff9999; line-height: 1.4;”>TEXT HERE</div>

TEXT HERE

I is for turning “I” into “you” (or “your”)

23. Index(ed) – indexing is the mysterious process of search engines organizing and prioritizing your blog and the pages on your website. SEO is the art of getting your blog and site pages to “rank” higher (show up on pages 1,2,3, etc).

K is for a Killer post that goes viral (Yes!)

24. Keyword(s) or Keyphrase(s) – is what someone types into a search engine – a single word or phrase. By including those keywords in your blog post you make it easier for search engines to rank your post for that topic.

M is for making money (the thing we don’t talk about, but secretly all want)

image showing meta description in search results

25. Meta Description – this is the short block of text readers see when they get their search results. Tip: keep your phrase to 150 characters and include the keywords readers will be searching for.

26. Meta Tags – refers to all the Tags hidden in your html code that tell the search engines what you page is all about and how to categorize that page.

27. Meta Title or Page Title – is the name of the page and is the bold text that shows up on a search results page when you rank in a search engine.

N – sorry Nothing here worth Noting

O – is for Outsourcing – the one thing that will mostly quickly earn you more money(!)

P – is for Procrastination and Perfection—two things that will keep you from Publishing!

28. Permalink – this is the funky URL that shows up in search engines, like this https://yourblogworks.com/start-a-blog-post/ Tip: if you are updating, or republishing a blog post, don’t change the permalink—you will lose any ranking you might have in search engines.

P - is for Procrastination and Perfection—two things that will keep you from Publishing! Click To Tweet

29. Plugin – Just like an app on your phone, a plugin is a piece of software that adds a operation to your website. For example, you can add Yoast to change the SEO settings, Pretty Link to create unique, memorable URL’s, or Editorial Calendar to get a calendar view of all your blog posts.

30. Post – this is just another name for your blog article. You can also call it “great”, “amazing”, “outstanding”, and “awesome” (knock yourself out.)

R – is for Really, Really, Really helpful blog posts (and getting and ROI)

31. Redirect – this is when one link takes you to another link (huh?) For example, if you click on www.yourblogworks.com/call you will be taken to https://go.oncehub.com/hughculver to book a call with us. That redirect uses a nifty WordPress plugin called Pretty Link.

32. Robots – we all know about WALL-E and R2D2, but there are online robots as well, like the ones that categorize web pages (like your blog post) for search engines.

33. RSS – stands for Really Simple Syndication (now you’ll sound smart at any party) and is the way updated information is fed to sites like Feedly, so your favourite blogs are waitinf for you.

S is for getting social shares of your post (yummy)

34. Sitemap – this is a page on your site that organizes all the pages on your site into a simple list. Search engines use your sitemap in their indexing process. Tip: you can see you sitemap by adding “sitemap_index.xml” to the end of your URL, like this https://yourblogworks.com/sitemap_index.xml (If you don’t have a sitemap consider using Yoast…see #43 below)

35. Social Media Sharing – this is what our team at BlogWorks can do for you! Get the word out and let your social followers enjoy your latest blog post.

36. Subscribe – when a reader joins your mailing list they are subscribing to receive your emails.

T is for Terrific content that Turns heads and Translates into new Transactions!

37. Tag or Tagging – is a bit of information, hidden in your html code, that tells search engines what your page is about. Tags include: Title Tag (for the whole site), Alt Tag (for images), Robots Meta Tag (tells search engine robots if it should index this page), and Header Tags.

38. Tip – if you want to get more business from your blog include 3-4 links in every post to your “revenue” pages.

39. Title or Subject – The title, or headline, of your blog is one of the most important ways to attract more attention and readers.

U – is for those Unicorn posts that get Unbelievable results

40. URL -Smarty pants know that URL is short for Uniform Resource Locator, but we all know the URL is the unique address for every page of your web site. Tip: want to create an easy to remember shortened URL? Check out the free WordPress plug-in called Pretty Link in this article.

W – is for putting your Blog to Work

41. Widget or Module – the little boxes of content (like an offer for a free book) are called widgets (now you know.)

42. WooHoo! – the sound you will make when you see your blog post getting shared across the social channels. You have made it happen!

Y is for…. yellow?

43. Yoast – sounds like toast but is not something you eat. Yoast is a popular SEO plugin that allows you to edit and optimize the SEO of the post and the way the post appears (Meta tag) in search engines.

Not bored yet? Well, we’ve got loads more of great articles for you…

How to (finally) make money with your blog
90 seconds to becoming a better writer
How to quicly write a great blog post

 

 

 

How to never run out of blog ideas ever again

Never run out of blog ideas ever again

This post was originally published in July, 2016 and has been updated and re-loved for you. Enjoy.

The biggest mistake bloggers make is, well, they don’t blog.

Those gaping holes between posts make everything on your site look a little suspect – like going into a grocery store and seeing food past its due date. How long before you question everything in the store?

The bottom line is you can’t attract new prospects and build loyalty if you don’t consistently work to attract them. That’s why content marketing (sharing valuable, problem-solving resources) is still the best way to grow your business. And this is true whether you’re a food blogger or a baker, a keynote speaker or you teach online – it’s all about finding unique blog ideas, sharing your best content AND proving you are the best choice.

To avoid running out of ideas for your blog you have to have lots of ideas for your blog.

In this post, I’ll walk you through 5 ways to keep unique blog ideas rolling in. Let’s jump in with reading…

1. Read blogs

Nothing beats reading other people’s blogs to stimulate ideas for your own future posts. I use feedly to pull my favourite blogs into one location where I can read them while I’m eating lunch. I also make it a habit to write comments on blogs I’ve read (hint, hint) to show my appreciation.

But, reading blogs is only the start—you need to think about your market. What problems need solving? What questions are they asking you? What has worked in the past?

Feedly is a super easy tool to quickly organize all your favourite blogs into one place.

For example, I got the idea to write posts about Google Analytics because I was searching for answers for my clients. I found a lot of articles answering my questions, but they were either too long or too technical. So I wrote this one and this one.

Now that you’re reading great content, you need to organize the best unique blog ideas…

2. Build an Inventory of Blog Ideas

In the old days (like 10 years ago) you might have saved magazines or used sticky notes to mark ideas in a book you’re reading. Those systems can’t keep up with our online world where a great idea might be in a blog post you read, an online magazine, a Tweet – even an Instagram post.

You need one place to collect, organize and retrieve your best blog ideas.

Evernote is a brilliant (free) online tool that allows you to easily grab articles off the web, store images, record audio or even accept pictures of hand-scribbled notes from your phone. It syncs in seconds on all your devices and, with the paid account, you can even search off-line as you head to the grocery store to collect ingredients for your favourite Thai salad with peanut sauce recipe.

To fully unleash the power of Evernote, install the Webclipper (I remember it as the Elephant head) extension on your favourite browser. That will allow you to quickly grab the article you found, strip it of advertising, tag it and store it for future reference.

find blog ideas

And here’s my favourite trick with Evernote (h/t to Michael Hyatt):

Instead of creating lots of Notebooks in Evernote, which can get messy and confusing, I have all my notes in one Notebook and use tags to search for what I want. And I tag all future blog ideas (including articles I saved using the Evernote extension) with the tag “unused blog post”. The tag allows me to easily pull up all my unused ideas and choose the one I want to work on. As soon as I use that note I delete it.

evernote
I use the tag “unused blog topics” to easily organize all my future blog ideas into one search.

Okay, you’ve collected lots of great blog ideas, now it’s time to organize them on a calendar…

3. Build your Blog Editorial Calendar

A simple way to organize your unique blog ideas is using a spreadsheet, like Excel or Google Sheets. Or you could use planning tools like Asana or Trello. That’s great, but I’m a visual person and prefer seeing future projects in a calendar format.

If you have a WordPress site, you can organize all your blog ideas with a clever (and free) plugin called Editorial Calendar (watch our quick video to learn how this works).

Editorial calendar
The Editorial calendar plugin makes it easy to schedule posts and to see your draft posts in one place.

When you start putting dates to topics, think about seasons and buyer behaviour. What seasons do your customers respond to (like winter, summer, Christmas, etc.)? When are your customers more likely to buy? When does your customer have certain problems (like Spring cleaning, budgeting, staff hiring, etc.)?

Your Editorial Calendar doesn’t have to be perfect. The idea is to promote the writing and publishing by planning ahead and avoiding writer’s block.

Now you have lots of blog ideas collected in Evernote and you’ve started to plan future posts in your Editorial Calendar. Great! This next strategy is a way to boost traffic without writing a new post…

4. Repurpose old blog content

This strategy will save you time and could get you a big traffic boost. Here’s how it works…

Start by making a list of posts that are pulling in strong traffic but are over a year old. These are gems that could be working harder if they were “re-loved” and republished.

To get to your analytics, first, log in, then navigate to Behaviour > Overview.

best blog ideas
To get to your analytics, first, log in, then navigate to Behaviour > Overview

This part is a little technical, but hang in there – you only need to do this research a few times a year to get the full benefit.

There are at least 3 metrics you can use to choose the blog article to republish:

  1. old posts – if your post is older than one year there’s a good chance you need to update the images, and facts in the article and maybe add more detail to the content.
  2. low Bounce rate – “Bounce rate” is the per cent of people who left your site after one page (they didn’t explore the rest of your site). A lower bounce rate (like 60-70%) can be a good sign. Think of it this way: out of all your published blog posts, there are some that keep readers on your site longer. Those posts could be worth updating and republishing.
  3. high time on page – “Time on site” is the minutes a reader spent on that page. The higher the time, the more likely the reader is to share the article and spend more time on your site.

You can combine the metrics. In other words, look for blog posts older than a year, with low bounce rate and high time on site. Find 3-5 of those posts and start with them.

Here’s another example:

We republished our post “Facebook Page vs Profile: Everything You Need To Know” and within 10 days our traffic increased by 229%!

blog ideas
In just 10 days traffic to this post increased by over 200%!

The blog post you’re reading is another good example. It was originally published in July 2016 and I added more content and images and republished it in February 2019. It only took about an hour’s worth of chopping, adding, and changes to turn it into the post you’re reading – much easier than starting from scratch!

Whew! You’ve collected amazing, unique blog ideas into Evernote, organized them with Editorial Calendar, planned a post you will refresh and republish. Now it’s time for a bit of psychology…

5. Give ‘em more of what they love

It might be tempting to pour a cup of coffee and just start writing your next blog post. But what about what your market wants?

Every day your readers are leaving bread crumbs – clues – about what they want. It could be a comment on a post, social shares or an email that asks a question about a recent post. You need to watch for these clues.

A simple first step is to check what posts are most popular (see #4 above). You can also think about the psychology of your reader. What keeps a person on your blog for more than a quick glance?

It’s about solving a problem.

Readers, don’t announce this – but they are looking for a solution to something. It could be a great travel destination or how to save for their retirement.

If you provide that solution that gets them from where they are now to where they want to be, faster or cheaper, they will come back for more. But, there’s more…

If you provide that solution that gets them from where they are now to where they want to be, faster or cheaper, they will come back for more. Click To Tweet

The trick is to always give’em more of what they love. Blogs that wander off down rabbit holes about unrelated topics might work if you are already a celebrity off-line, but don’t work if you are trying to build a business online.

Stick to what your readers want and you will build valuable traffic that will come back for more.

 

6 Ways to Get More Blog Traffic

6 Ways to Get More Blog Traffic This Year

I can read your mind. Let me peer into my crystal ball…It’s telling me you want to get more blog traffic.

Don’t worry – I can help you with that! In this post, I’ll be explaining six ways to get more traffic to your blog. 

Let’s dive in.

#1:  Write Shareable Content

This sounds like a no-brainer. Of course your content needs to be shareable!

However, it’s not quite as simple as it sounds. What is “shareable”? How do you create it?

While there is no magic bullet to create shareable content, there are a few best practices you can follow that will help you get more shares (and more traffic) on your posts. They are:

  1. Come up with better topic ideas
  2. Adhere to great blog post formatting
  3. Add shareable elements like click to tweet boxes
  4. Use amazing images
  5. Add more social sharing buttons

Pro Tip: We use Sumo for social sharing – it’s free and effective!

#2: Create Roundup Posts

Get more blog traffic with roundup posts

You’ve probably seen these before. They’re posts with a “roundup” of quotes or input from experts in a field.

For example, if your blog is about social media marketing, a roundup post might be “27 Social Media Marketing Experts Give Their Best Tips”.

You can either reach out to the experts directly to ask for their input in the article, or you can simply grab a quote from something they’ve already written and include it in your post. Be sure to link to their site as well, as this will increase the chances they’ll share. The better you make them look, the more likely they are to share. Bonus points if you add their image!

Once you’ve written the post, send them an email or @ mention them on Twitter to let them know about it. Chances are, they’ll share it for you.

#3: Go Deeper on a Topic That’s Already Hot

This is a sure-fire way to get some extra traffic. Here’s how you do it:

  1. Find out what’s hot by using a tool like BuzzSumo and searching for your topic idea
  2. Write a post on that topic, but go more in-depth
  3. If you’re really fancy, reach out to the people who shared and linked to that post you made better and see if they’ll share/link to your new post

It’s really that simple – it just takes a lot of work!

#4: Take a Stand

No one wants to hear the same thing everyone else is saying. Instead, be bold! Stand for something. Have an opinion.

One of the best ways to get more blog traffic is by talking about controversial topics. For example, Mark Schaefer wrote this post on something he called “Content Shock”, claiming that blogging is a dead marketing tactic when everyone else was saying it was great.

Blogging certainly isn’t dead, but his controversial stance on such a popular topic managed to get thousands of shares!

#5: Reveal Yourself

No, no, keep your pants on! I’m not talking about taking your clothes off…

I’m talking about being more personal in your posts. Revealing the real you to your audience. How do you do this?

  • Try to write something without limiting yourself. Even if you’re not sure a certain word or phrase is appropriate, leave it in anyway. Go back and edit it before you publish, but the post will have more of your true voice.
  • Tell personal stories, especially if they’re funny or if you’ve struggled. People connect with stories.
  • Use “I, we, us” in your writing. Talk like you’re there with your readers. Be conversational.

Once you’ve done all these things, there’s only one more tip I can give you (and it might be the most important on this list)…

#6: Write Better Headlines

David Ogilvy, a famous advertising revolutionary, once had this to say about titles/headlines:

“On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.”

Headlines account for 80% of your work! His claim isn’t unproven, either – According to some sources, on average, eight out of 10 people will read headline copy, but only two out of 10 will read the rest.

Want to get better at writing headlines? You’re in luck – we wrote a full blog post to help you out.

Conclusion

How to get more blog traffic is always on every blogger’s mind. It’s part of being a blogger. Traffic is our lifeblood – it’s why we do what we do.

If you follow the six steps outlined above, you should start to see more blog traffic on your posts this year! If you want more tips, check out this guide to promoting your blog posts.

Read Next: How to Drive Traffic to Your Old Blog Posts