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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

9 big blogging mistakes you need to avoid in 2020

Key Blogging Mistakes to avoid

If you have a blog congratulations!

Whether you’re a lawyer, financial planner, doctor, motivational speaker, you’re on the right track.

Even in 2020, this is the easiest and most effective way to attract clients, build rapport, build a contact list, book appointments, and sell products.

But there are definitely blogging mistakes you want to avoid.

Some are obvious, like bad grammar, spelling mistakes or using tacky stock photography.

Here we’ll outline 9 blogging mistakes you might not know you are making that can hurt your results.

Ready?

Let’s dive in…

Mistake #1: Not Solving a Problem

Imagine you’re meeting with a financial planner to decide if you want to hire them. And all they do is talk about themselves.

Interesting? Maybe.

Helpful? Nope.

What you want is solutions—what do they know that will help you?

Your blog is no different. Every article has the potential to solve a problem for a reader. And the more specific the problem, the better.

Here are some examples of some bloggers that consistently offer valuable, useful content:

Seth Godins Blog
There is a reason why Seth Godin has earned millions of readers – consistently great content. 

One of the biggest blogging mistakes you can make is not making this problem obvious. So start at the top to grab attention.

It’s no different than a speaker on stage asking their audience “Has this ever happened to you?”

Right away, we are leaning in…waiting for the solution.

Mistake #2: Not Measuring Results

You wouldn’t drive a car without a speedometer or open a bank account if you couldn’t see your balances, so why would you invest in a website if you couldn’t see the results?

Examples of metrics you’ll want to pay attention to include:

  • Social shares
  • Bounce rates
  • CTA clicks
  • Traffic sources

Here’s more on how to measure your blog’s success.

A great place to start is by making sure you have Google Analytics installed correctly on your website. Here is how to check. Next, set it up so you get a simple PDF of your results emailed to you once a month. Now, you will be getting feedback on your site and can track the results of your blog posts and site traffic.

Google Analytics
A good place to start is to set up your Google Analytics to send an automatic report

Mistake #3: No Call-To-Action

Every article you publish should help your readers take the next step.

It could be as simple as a related article on your site they can enjoy, or a link to your book or to learn about your services.

The bottom line is that you don’t have to do anything fancy here! Just make sure that you are offering some valuable content, product, or service that is relevant to the reader.

Here are some examples of Call-To-Action for your blog:
– read a related post (like this post all about adding a Call-To-Action to your blog)
– download a more in-depth ebook, report, or video on this topic
– complete a quick survey on this topic
– learn more about your book, courses, facility, staff, services…
– submit a comment
– share this post on social media

Mistake #4: Doing it All Yourself

You’re a busy professional. Your time is valuable.

One of the biggest blogging mistakes is trying to do it all when you could be delegating tasks to other professionals.

If you’re looking at your content and thinking “It’s no big deal, I’ll just do it myself” maybe it’s time to do a little self-reflection.

Next time you are about to log into WordPress to publish your blog, ask yourself: What does this time and inconvenience cost me?

Those 15-20 minutes are an interruption in your day and a big distraction from growing your business, enjoying a break or even reading a chapter in that book you bought last month.

Here are some blogging tasks that are easy to outsource:

  • Research – wouldn’t it be great if someone was pulling together the perfect quotes, statistics, stories, and facts for your next post?
  • Editing – once the writing is done, editing is a tedious task someone else can do.
  • Publishing – there are at least 15 steps to publishing a blog (if you do it correctly and set up: tags, categories, meta descriptions, etc.). And they are repetitive – perfect for outsourcing.
  • Video creation – you are the rock star, not the whole crew. There are lots of freelancers who love messing around with transitions, intro’s and sound.
  • Slide decks for presentations – if the presentation is important enough, it’s worth have a pro check over your slides and adding final touches.

Upwork is a great place to find talent. If you’re using it, use filters to help you narrow down parameters like country, skill level, and rates. In this post, we walk you through how to set up a job and find freelancers.

At BlogWorks we pride ourselves on being able to deliver white-label, SEO rich blogposts to our clients. If this is something you are interested in, contact us for a free consultation to see how we can help you!

Mistake #5: Being Inconsistent

One of the biggest blogging mistakes that people tend to make is trying to publish randomly, when inspiration strikes, or even every day.

But, just like most things, quality is more important than quantity.
So if you want to stick with a schedule of weekly or bimonthly, that’s fine! But stick to it.

Consistency builds loyalty, and readers will look forward to your next post.

At BlogWorks, we publish weekly. And we can see a nice spike in our traffic every time we publish.

Start by blocking out a little time for writing out some drafts or ideas, and then outsourcing (see #3, above) where you can.

TIP: Check out Cal Newport’s argument for time-blocking in his book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World.

Cal Newport Book

Mistake #6: Skipping Your Mailing List

If you are a service professional (doctor, lawyer, professional speaker, medical professional, coach, etc.), then your blog is the ideal way to attract more clients. You get to showcase your best solutions and your clients get to “test drive” your services.

Your blog is also a great way to build your mailing list.

Having a mail list is a simple way to stay in touch with your audience, keep them informed of what you’re up to, and advertise your latest products and services. It also adds value to your business.

Unlike, advertising that you have to constantly feed, your mailing list can reach your followers for free. And unlike advertising that is pushing your products and services on people, your blog is welcomed by readers and attracts them to your solutions.

Not having a mailing list is one of the biggest blogging mistakes you can make. So, even if you only have 200 people on a list now, it’s not too late to start growing that list. Before you start, though, check out these 5 questions to ask before you build your mailing list.

Mistake #7: Not using an Template

You wouldn’t start a business or go on a vacation without a plan. Similarly, you shouldn’t write a blog without a template. Your template, or blueprint, or outline, is a guide for what comes first and what follows.

For example, all blog articles need to start by getting your readers’ attention. That’s pretty obvious, right? After all, your reader needs to stop scrolling long enough to pay attention to your post. But, did you know that the next part is all about a problem?

The whole idea is to create a reading experience just like a conversation. You start by getting your listener’s attention, then you present a problem you think they would be interested in solving and then tell them what you know about that.

Often, just by reorganizing your content you can turn a ho-hum blog post into a viral machine that attracts thousands of readers.

Here’s a quick overview of the exact template we use at BlogWorks.

Opening – always start by getting your reader’s attention and get them to stop scrolling on their phone or tablet or lean in if this is a presentation. Start with a story, a bold claim or a statistic/fact.

Problem – next, you need to make it obvious what the problem you are solving. It could be to save time, rescue a marriage, or delegate better – whatever it is, make it clear that you understand their problem.

Personal – why are you writing/speaking about this? What is your personal experience or client’s story, or research you’ve completed?

Promise – what will you share? What will they get from reading further or listening to you?

Solutions – what do they need to do or change? Can you give examples of how this has worked for others? Is there anything they need to avoid?

Next Steps – remind them of the problem and why this is important.

The Offer – how they can go further with you (products, services, courses, etc)

Close – motivational message, call-to-action, or challenge

Download your copy of the complete template here.

Mistake #8: Forgetting Social Media

At BlogWorks we love to bring you more love.

We don’t use mindless automation, instead, we have a team of wonderful, local writers who get to know your writing style and craft each update for your Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

It’s important to have a clear picture of what’s working, but wading through a sea of metrics can be time-consuming and even confusing.

Here are some tips to help you simplify

  • Get clear on how to use social media analytics
  • Choose only one or two key channels which are most relevant to your audience
  • Hire a dedicated social media professional to manage and monitor posts
  • Develop a content plan which encompasses social posting and all marketing activities

Learn more about why social media scheduling tools might be a bad idea.

Mistake #9: Getting Discouraged and Giving Up

Finally, we are at the biggest of all the blogging mistakes: giving up!

Here’s the thing:

Your blog will never be as sexy as paid advertising or as daring as hosting a webinar or renting a hotel room and inviting people to a free seminar.

Instead, it will be something that adds value to your company slowly over time.
Every day, readers are giving you their attention. They come back over and over for advice and guidance.

And all it costs you is some planning and a bit of your time.

You will want to quit. After all, it’s not like you see the readers marching into your office waiting room or lining up at your home office. But they’re there.

When you get discouraged and want to give up, remember this…

You’re building an audience and if you serve them well that audience will become fans and those fans will become clients. Your blog is an investment in your business that will keep paying rewards for years to come.

Now all you have to do is keep investing in your blog!

Did you like this blog? Here are three more you’ll want to check out:

The Ultimate List: 7 Reasons Why You (Yes, You) Need A Blog Today
5 Ways To Get More Social Media Followers
3 Reasons To Measure Your Blog’s Success (And How) 

How to Ignite Your Blog Results in the New Year

How to Ignite Your Blog Results in the New Year

“Cheers to the New Year and another chance for us to get it right.” Oprah

The new year is a perfect time for a fresh start. How about your blog? 

Whatever your results were last year, the new year brings new ideas, energy, inspiration and, with a bit of focus, even better results. Your blog could be one of your most powerful marketing tools if you put it to work.

In this article, we are sharing our 7 favourite new year blog improvements. You can do each one independently. And most of them can be done in less than one hour. 

Ready? Let’s get started…

Clear the clutter

Your readers don’t need more distractions. Now is the time to remove low-value parts from your blog pages that pull your readers away from your content. Here are some examples: 

Blogrolls. Your blog is not a library where people park themselves for hours and your readers don’t need a list of past blogs (we all know how to scroll down the page and click the “previous” button).

Tag clouds/lists. Unless you are getting thousands of readers a day you will want to direct readers to your latest blog post. Lists of tags (or blog categories) are for high-traffic sites that need to direct readers who are returning multiple times.

Social media widgets. An invitation to go to social media is an invitation to lose readers. If you want to invite readers to connect with you on social, add social share buttons to your blog with tools like sumome or social warfare, plus add the widgets at the bottom of your site.

Watch the numbers

You can’t make good decisions about your money until you know your current financial status, and you can’t get better results from your blog until you know what the current performance is. And the only way to see what’s happening with your web site is with Google Analytics.

In this article, we show you how to know if Google Analytics is installed. While in this article we explain what numbers to watch and what they mean.

To go one step further, log in to Google Analytics, Go to Audience>Overview then click the “Share” button in the top-right corner of your screen and set up an automatic monthly report to be emailed to you. This is a great way to get a nudge in your inbox every month to pay attention to your numbers!

How to Ignite Your Blog Results in the New Year
With one click get a snapshot of your site’s analytics sent to your Inbox

Create a calendar

A great way to kick off the new year and to get your creative juices flowing is with a content calendar for the year. Think of this as a map of all the topics you want to share with your readers.

You can organize future posts around seasons, holidays, annual events, or product launches. This is also a great time to look at past blog posts and think about updating old posts that have done well (#4 idea) but are outdated. 

You can build your calendar using the Calendar WordPress plugin (see my video on this), in Microsoft Excel, planning tools like Trello, or in social media scheduling tools like coschedule.

The Calendar plug-in makes it easy to organize future blog posts

The old is new again

One of our favourite traffic-building strategies is to update old blog posts that have done well in the past but are in need of a quick update. Not only can this be a big-time saver (compared to writing a completely new post), but you are building on the traffic the post is already getting. 

How to Ignite Your Blog Results in the New Year

The strategy is to give each article a quick make-over to update the content, refresh the look and then to republish with a new date. The goal is more traffic, plus you save a lot of time and effort, compared to starting from scratch with a new article.

This post explains in detail how to use this strategy.

Linking is the new Liking

Imagine you park your car, walk into a store, ready to buy an accessory for your computer, but there’s nobody there to help you. You’d probably leave. Right?

With most blog posts we look at, that’s what happens – over 90% of readers leave the site. 

How to Ignite Your Blog Results in the New Year
Unless you have a good reason to stay, most readers will exit without ever visiting a second page.

One of the quickest ways to get better performance from your blog is to add a call-to-action. The call-to-action (CTA) might be a simple link to your book or programs, or an invitation to learn more about your products, like “learn more about our custom leadership workshops.”

Keywords are the key

Confused about SEO, keywords, meta tags, and jargon concerning attracting more organic traffic? Well, it can be confusing – especially if you try to follow the advice of guru’s who spend their whole day thinking about this stuff. Or it can be really easy.

The basic concept of SEO for your blog post to include what the readers you want are already looking for. If your target market is searching for “leadership training’”, “roll-up garage doors”, or “Denver real estate lawyer” you need to include that phrase a number of times in your article (ideally in your headline as well).

A super-quick way to discover what people are searching for is to start typing a query into your search bar and then see what Google suggests people are searching for. You can also see a list of suggestions in blue at the bottom of your screen.

You can also use Google Trends to discover keyword phrases used in the past 7 days, month or longer.

 

Practice writing faster, better

When it comes to blogging, it’s more important to stay connected with your followers with regularly posted articles than it is to keep reworking an article until perfect. Learning how to turn a blog idea into a finished post faster and better will make it easier to keep up with your publishing schedule. 

This article is an example: I wrote this over 3 mornings and for about 30 minutes each time. 

Here are some tips on how to write faster and better.

  1. Start with your content calendar (#3, above). Having topics ready to go allows you to start thinking about the post – even taking notes – long before the article is due.
  2. Use a writing template. Every blog should flow from: attention, personal, promise, content, to call-to-action. Get your free copy of the template here. At Blogworks, our team all use The Ultimate Writing Template for most of our client’s articles. 
  3. Only edit at the end. Each time you go to work on your draft post, avoid the temptation to edit what you’ve already written. The goal should be to first write what author Anne Lamott calls your “shitty first draft” and only then to go back and clean up your post.
  4. Write like you speak. A blog is a conversation where you solve problems or share topics of interest with your audience. The best blogs use a conversational style of writing (without a lot of jargon or “$10 words”)  that makes the reading experience easy and enjoyable. Try recording your thoughts as you speak and then using a service like rev.com to transcribe your voice into a draft article.
  5. Ship it. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how clever your ideas are or how amazing your solutions if you don’t, as serial blogger Seth Godin would say “Ship it.” Even if it means cranking out a 300-word muse about an article you just read, it’s better to stick to a regular publishing schedule and keep your followers coming back for more.

Liked this post? Got another 5 minutes? Here are 3 more of our most popular posts all about writing blogs:

How to start a blog post – 5 examples that really work!
5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog topic ideas your audience will love

How to Track Blog Performance: 5 Quick Ways

5 Quick Ways to Measure and Track Your Blog Performance

 If you’re wondering whether and how to track blog performance, let me ask you a question:

Would you drive a car without a dashboard or put your money in a bank if you couldn’t see your balance?

Not likely – right?

So why are you investing in a website, but not measuring and tracking results?

Of course, if you are measuring your results, please pat yourself on the back and go back to your spreadsheets.

If not…you really need to take 5 minutes and read this article.

Every day at BlogWorks we speak with wonderful, hard-working business owners who have a website and a blog. Almost all fail to measure results.

No numbers, no comparison of this month to last month—no way of knowing what’s working.

Meanwhile 78% (I just made that up) want to invest more money into their website so it will “perform better”!!

What if you knew how to track blog performance and could get basic feedback – without having to hire a pimply 21 year old or having to learn SEO?

What if you knew how to track your blog's performance and could get basic feedback - without having to hire a pimply 21 year old or having to learn SEO? Click To Tweet

Great, right?

Well, it is possible to measure your blog’s performance stats and do it quickly and easily.

Here’s 5 ways to get you started…

1. Dollars in the Bank

The most basic question to ask yourself is: does your blog put money in the bank? After all, you should be getting a return on your the investment you put into your blog.

The most obvious return on that investment is enquiries from prospects who read your blog:

    • a prospect replies directly to the email you sent announcing your latest blog post.
    • prospects are responding to an offer in your blog announcement.

When you email your blog to your list do you get a spike in traffic to your site (see Google Analytics below)? That spike in traffic can drive more attention to your product and services pages. This article will show you 7 ways to include a Call-To-Action in your blog posts.

2. Comments and Shares

This isn’t the most scientific measure of blog performance, but reader engagement is a sign to watch. On the most simplest level, more comments and social shares equates to performance of that post.

Let’s face it, we all have blog posts that miss the mark and complete winners that haul in half your traffic. More comments on one post is a positive sign, just as posts that get shared more mean your readers found value in your content.

We wrote about social sharing plugins that are free and easy to use in this article.

3. Growing your list

Your mailing list is one of the most powerful ways to reach your audience and boost blog performance. Even with the incredible power of social media, emails have more shelf life—an email might be opened, read and responded to days – even a week – after you send it.

So consider your list growing strategy. Do you have obvious opt-in invitations on your blog? Is the incentive to join your list working? Do you have a simple email sequence that is sent out automatically when someone joins your list? This article is all about adding call-to-actions to your blog.

As a speaker, I invite my audience to sign up for my blog. At a typical presentation 50-80% of the room complete a simple form to sign up. My blog becomes a way into those businesses. That’s a value I can measure.

4. How to Check your Numbers

analytics overview to measure your blog performance

The real data behind how your blog performs comes from Google Analytics.  This is a must-do for anyone who wants to know how to track blog performance.

Once you know Google Analytics is installed, you can dive into the data as simply or as deeply as you are comfortable. Learn more about using the data in this article.

Once you log-in, set the date range for the last 30 days (top-right hand corner of display). The basic 3 numbers to pay attention to are:

  1. Users – this is the number of unique visitors (each person is counted once).
  2. Pages/Session – average number of pages per visit (session) indicates if readers are exploring your site.
  3. Avg. Session Duration – the higher this number, the better – you want readers to spend enough time to go from reading your blog to your “revenue pages.”

If you want  to go a bit deeper (and impress your friends), set your dates to the last 30 days and then click “compare.” Now you can see how your site performance compares to the past 30 days.

Google Analytics comparison to measure your blog's performance

Dashboard Delivery

It’s unlikely you’ll log into Analytics very often which is why we recommend it comes to you! In one minute you can set up Analytics to send you a simple dashboard report every month to help you track blog performance:

  1. Click “Share” (top right corner)
  2. In the pop-up window, enter your email address.
  3. Choose “Attachments” – PDF
  4. Choose “Frequency” – Monthly
  5. Click “I’m not a robot” > Send

gif showing how to use google analytics compare to measure your blog's success

5. Think long term

You have lots of marketing choices – always will. And one of the best marketing strategies is to create relevant, valuable unique content to attract prospects. That takes time.

With a little planning, some consistent effort and learning how to track blog performance,  you can outdistance your competitors.

Blogging is not a bright-shiny-object you do for a week. It’s about thinking long-term and committing. The good news is, measuring your results results not only will let you know what’s working and what needs attention, but you’ll also get to enjoy watching your investment pay off.

Enjoyed this article? Here are 3 more articles to help boost your blogging efforts:

51 ways to get more business from your blog in the New Year
90 seconds to becoming a better writer
How to write a great blog post – FAST!

 

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.

 

How the Pros Run Their Blogs

Pro blogging tips to help your business

You know the worst feeling in the world?

Seeing other blogs take off while yours stays stagnant.

Trust me, I know how crushing this feeling can be. However, there’s a simple way to get more shares and better rankings. In fact, the pros know how to use these strategies well.

And you’re about to learn them with these pro blogging tips!

The Pros Use Google Analytics

Measure your blog's effectiveness with Google Analytics

When you install Google Analytics, you can see which of your blog posts are doing well and which aren’t, based off their traffic. Then, you can base your next blog post off the information you get from these stats.

You don’t want to waste time writing articles that aren’t bringing traffic to your blog. Basing your post topics off what’s already done well will ensure that doesn’t happen.

As content marketing expert Andy Crestodina explains,

“The more you’re aware of how things are connected and the deeper you look down the funnel, the more equipped you’ll be to make better decisions. It’s just like the dashboard of a car.”

The Pros Blog Consistently and Schedule Their Content

In order to get more traffic to your blog, you have to get into the habit of writing content consistently. Without posting on a schedule, you’ll have a hard time building a following.

By creating S.M.A.R.T goals, you’ll find it easier to write noteworthy content. These goals will keep you focused (even when all you want to do is procrastinate).

Try out different S.M.A.R.T goals to see what works best for you. For example, if you say you’re going to stick to writing three blog posts weekly, but can’t come up with the time to do so, shorten the goal to once per week.

Another great way to keep up with these goals is to create a content calendar (also known as an editorial calendar). This will ensure that you’re staying on top of your blog posts daily.

Content Calendar

By creating a content calendar, you’re able to determine your publishing schedule and set up recurring events. The point is to come up with topic ideas ahead of time so you aren’t scrounging for ideas at the last minute.

The Pros Write Great Blog Content

After a while, you may feel like you’ve written all you have to say. When you start to feel like you’ve hit writer’s block, use this time to gather topic ideas from blogs that you follow yourself.

If anything, you could always repurpose some of your old content that has done well in the past. Include new case studies that back up points you’ve made in the past and spruce up your old post.

Conclusion

Even with these pro blogging tips, finding the time to write a great post can be a challenge. A good way to power through your work daily is to use the Pomodoro Technique (which helps you power through distractions using 25 minute intervals).