How to Think of Small Business Ideas





Has a product or service ever hit the market and the first thing you thought was, “I totally could have made that!”



And you know what? You’re right. You could have.

But you didn’t, did you?

Someone else beat you to the punch. They come up with a business idea, they came up with a prototype, and then they followed through on building the business and promoting their product or service.

The reason you didn’t come up with it first is you weren’t ready. I firmly believe this. Starting a business takes a certain type of person, this is true, but it takes more than that. It’s all about coming up with the right idea and doing it at the right time. Here’s how you can come up your own ideas.

Be Patient

You can Google “Best Small Business Ideas” all you want. The sad fact is these pieces of content are going to have pretty much the same ideas. And every year, they’ll be updated with a few new items.



It’s not that all of these ideas are terrible, it’s just they aren’t unique. They aren’t specific to what you want to do. They aren’t your idea. And they’ve been done or are being done by other people who read the internet, which is everyone.

If you want to come up with an amazing idea for a small business, you need to be patient. Stop trying to overthink it.

Unless you’re a super genius, the chances of you coming up with something revolutionary are slim. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but it is unlikely.

The best thing you can do as a budding entrepreneur is to be patient and wait for ideas to come to you as well as opportunities.

Let the Juices Flow

If you want to come up with ideas, you need to be creative and think outside of the box.

This starts with being a copycat. That’s right. I said. Be a copycat.

What I mean by this is you should look at what other successful people do and you should mimic that behavior. This starts with the written word. If you want to be an entrepreneur, if you want to be successful, you need to read. The average CEO is reading 4-5 books a month.

Aside from books, there are other outlets you should also consider. Podcasts, newspapers, and blogs can all have valuable information you can use to make yourself smarter and be more creative. And don’t forget folks, this is 2018, and you can visit this site, which is chock full of apps designed to help get those creative juices flowing in the right direction.

While I’m at, there are several habits that you can mimic besides being creative. The most successful people in the world get up early. How early? Before everyone else. They get up at 5 or six in the morning, meditate, exercise, eat a healthy breakfast, and they’re in the office before everyone else.



They know how to start the day. This early riser mindset gets them ready for anything life has to throw at them.

When you wake up and stumble into work half-asleep, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Get up, get your act together, and get ready to face the day with a smile and a winning attitude.

Keep a Journal

You would be surprised at just how much you can learn from yourself by keeping a journal. Write down everything that happens during your day, both your workday and your off days.

When I say everything, I mean everything. This includes the food you eat, the drinks you drink, and every detail. This shouldn’t take any more than twenty or thirty minutes a day.

After keeping your journal for a while, include goals for your day. Do you want to eat healthier, work out more, or come up with small business ideas, it can all start with a journal.

You should also write down your productivity goals. When are you finding yourself to be the most productive? Are you eating specific foods around this time? Is there a certain habit that helps you to be more efficient? A journal can help you find out.

As far as business ideas, this can give you the opportunity to write ideas down as they come to you. If you look back on previous ideas, you may be able to expand or flip the idea into something awesome.

Hang Out With Like-Minded People

I’m not telling you to stop hanging out with your friends and family. But you should look into meeting other entrepreneurs or people who are also looking for ideas for businesses.

Most cities have various meet-ups for professionals in different demographics. I’ve seen online events for everything from blogging to real estate.

Speaking of going online, social media is a great place to find and interact with other entrepreneurs. Social media also offers other opportunities. You can find Facebook groups and mastermind groups all over the web.

The Takeaway

Entrepreneurship isn’t easy. Creating something from nothing is one of the hardest things you will ever do. However, the reward makes all of your hard work worth your time.

But at the end of the day, you don’t have to create anything new. You can take something that already exists and make it better. You can take a product or service and make even more products and services that pair well.

Use your imagination. Be creative. And follow your passions. These are how every business gets off the ground.

Upselling in the Digital Age





Upselling is a vital part of marketing. The goal isn’t just to sell. It’s to keep on selling.



You want lots of customers. You want repeat customers. You want customers to keep coming back and looking for premium services or products.

It’s important that you are able to deliver.

What do I mean, exactly? Here are some examples.

Amazon

We all shop at Amazon. It has become as American as apple pie.

Want I want you to think about is how often you end up buying extras. Below the item you’re looking for, you’ve sure seen the section marked “frequently sold with this item” or “customers who bought this item also bought this item”.



This is upselling at its finest. It’s something every business should be trying to do. Think of it as a 2-for-1.

The customer comes to your store or website, finds the product or service, pays for it, and then the transaction is complete, possibly forever.

Sure. Many businesses start that way. But if you want yours to grow and continue to be successful, upselling needs to be a priority. If you’re a small company or even a mid-sized business, you can’t possibly compete with Amazon. But you don’t have to. You just need to find the method of upselling that works for your business.

Examples

How often do you go out for coffee? The average Amercian goes out multiple times a week just for coffee.

Many modern coffee shops use digital menu boards. Every time you want to add something, it is going to cost you something small, like twenty or thirty cents. So your basic cup of coffee ends up costing you an extra dollar. Everyone adds something to their menus items, costing them extra money.

It’s just change for individual orders, but these upsells help the coffee shop drastically increase profits on a daily basis.

Think back to the last time you bought a computer. Did you buy what you wanted to buy or did you end up upgrading to a better system? Did you pick up a premium keyword or mouse? Did you pay extra for an extended warranty?



All of these examples are upsells.

And they work!

New Businesses

If you have a new business, how do you upsell?

Honestly, don’t worry about it. You need to focus more on branding and marketing and creating the best product or service.

When you come up with a second product or service, that’s when you start looking for upsells.

Get the word out about this new product or service and make sure your upsells are ready on the website. Your employees should be trained to mention upsells, such as warranties and add-ons.

The Takeaway

Upsell. Then upsell some more.

You can do it without being pushy. Amazon does it every day, all day long.

It’s time for your business to grow.

Implement upselling opportunities into your marketing strategy to take your company to the next level.

Blogging and Alternative Income Streams





In one of my recent posts here on Shoemoney, I discussed blogging in detail. Specifically, how bloggers get paid.



It sounds like a dream come true, doesn’t it? You live your life however you want, document the journey, and get paid for it.

Sure, this is great. And the reason it sounds like a dream is because it usually is.

Fortunately, there are other ways to make money that use your blog as a foundation. And here are a few ideas that have actually worked for people.

Freelance Writing

Do you think I started off as a marketing professional? No.



Do I have a degree in marketing? I don’t.

I started as a blogger, believe it or not. And once again, that blog had nothing to do with marketing or SEO. They came much, much later in the game.

I just wanted some pocket money. Mostly because I was poor. I applied for freelance writing gigs the same way everyone else does and I got lucky. My blog was enough to get me in the door. The content manager liked it so much she hired me with no portfolio to speak of, which was nice of her. <3

Freelance writing changed my life, gave me the freedom to explore new opportunities, and the money to chase my dreams without being afraid of failure. Even though it wasn’t on my own website, I was still able to get paid to blog.

My blog, to this day, doesn’t make much. Freelance writing is what truly next leveled my life.

Coaching

There are a lot of really smart people who are stuck in really crappy jobs. They don’t have the time, money, or resources to find alternatives to their current problem. This is where coaches come in.



And many coaches started with a blog talking about how they became successful. They give out quality information for free and if you want some one-on-one time with them, then you need to pay up.  Some of them still maintain their blogs and even YouTube channels to help bring in new clients. This helps to keep organic traffic and new people rolling into the site on a daily basis.

Some coaches even create their own products as an alternative income stream. They make courses and sell them online, hosting them on their own website or a site like Udemy.

Marketing

SEO and social media management are in-demand fields. Social media managers are expected to see 10% growth until 2026, which is higher than the national average. The pay is also not bad, with an average of around $50k a year.

SEO and content marketing related jobs have seen a sharp spike over the last year.

All of the experience you get from running your own blog can transfer into high-demand fields like these. The funny thing is that no one thinks about it when they first start their blog. They just say, “But I don’t have a portfolio!”

Yes, you do. If you built a blog from the ground up, took the DA to 50 in two years and have 20k hits a month, you have results. And that’s what hiring managers want to see.

Conclusion

The chances of you living the full-time blogging dream are pretty slim.

But if you can create a nice looking site with great content that has decent traffic, you may find yourself in a completely different field.

The best part is a lot of these jobs are remote, meaning you can work from home. That’s the real dream.

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15 Local SEO Tips That Are Bound to Change Your Game





Did you know that 71% of people who use the internet look and confirm the location of a business before heading to it for the first time? Think of the last time you did? You might have been looking for the time a business opens or closes.



Local search is now as integral to our lives as toilet paper. We probably wouldn’t be able to navigate our world without it now.

So, if your local SEO game isn’t on, you probably want to pay attention to these relevant tips.

1. Start Outside the Internet

It’s weird, but when local journalists cover your business, you get a linkback on their online journal. Funny how that works, right?

But connecting to local news sources is one incredible way to show Google you’re a local star.

2. Get Scheming With Schema Markup

If you’re not using schema.org, you’re not telling Google enough information about your local business. Schema is an easy way to add additional information to your HTML and make your website tastier to Google.

It might seem late in the game, but a lot of your competitors probably have no clue what schema even is. If you don’t know how to do that, you can always hire a local SEO expert to add schema to your website.

3. Sign Up for Online Reviews

Reviews are now the biggest way consumers decide whether they are going to buy a product or patronize a business. Reviews are essentially social proof you’re good enough for the masses.



And Google pays attention to this. If you notice that someone is satisfied with your service, ask them to put a review up.

If they are dissatisfied, wipe their memory and start over. Or just don’t mention there’s a way to write reviews.

4. That Other Search Engine

Because people don’t often think about Bing or use it, SEOs are pretty guilty of not even touching it. But some people still use the search engine and it’s worth it to do a little bit of work to rank there.

That little bit of work just means getting listed on Bing Places for Business. It’s a really simple and easy way to get your business listed on Bing.

5. Google My Business, If You Please

Not only do customers trust your site better if you have an address, they’ll actually find your physical location and buy your things. Google knows this and they give every website the opportunity to list your address in their directory.

This gives you a whole page of information to display to potential customers who know where to look. You can give Google a description of your business, what category tags you’ll use, hours, and other great information.

6. Take a NAP

You want every one of your addresses across all websites to be consistent. For example, if your address is 1884 Barker St, you want every address out there to be abbreviated from street to “st.” This allows search engines to easily aggregate all mentions of your address.

This is a big part of your NAP strategy or your Name, Address, and Phone number.

7.  NAP Citations

There are sites out there that aggregate business data. They take your NAP and publish them for all to see. And you really do want to be seen, right?

Some of the top sites include Acxiom, Factual, Neustar, and Infogroup.

Also, get your NAP on less official sites like Yelp, Citysearch, and other places where people might look for reviews.



8. Local Backlinks, Anyone?

Your competition isn’t likely to give you a backlink. There are other businesses in your area who aren’t directly competing with you, right?

Why not network with these people? Get to know them. Maybe offer to guest post on their site?

You could get some valuable local backlinks from doing this. And really, it never hurts to ask.

9. Images Are Worth Something

Your Google business page isn’t just a place for words. You can add a picture too. This will make your listing stand out among the boring other people who don’t upload a photo or two.

Also, Google image search is a thing. If you put up images of your business anywhere and optimize for image search, you’ll get some traffic from Google image search.

10. Would You Like a Tour?

Virtual tours aren’t just for real estate listings anymore. You can pay a little bit of cash and get someone to visually map out your business. Then, if you post it to your business page and your website, customers can oggle your wares before they even set foot inside.

They may even be more likely to come check out your shop if they see what it’s like inside. This is especially important if your real storefront is non-descript.

11. Keep People There With Great Content

People aren’t going to spend much time on your site if all you have are sales listings or hours of operation. Give them something to look at while they’re there.

This means great content. A blog, a video section, anything to keep them browsing your site.

Not only will this show you as an expert in your field, it will signal to Google that your page is valuable and interesting to customers.

12. Spread That Link Juice

This is one of the most basic SEO tips I could put here. But you may not have heard it, so here goes.

You need to link internally between pages on your website. If one post goes viral but isn’t linked back to anything, your whole site won’t benefit. That’s how this works.

So, don’t isolate one page in all of your stuff. Make sure your website is a network in and of itself.

13. Have Actual Meetups

Creating a community around your business is a great way to increase sales and loyalty. But the reason I’m talking about community is more to benefit your online presence.

The more customers meet together, the more they’ll blab online about your business. Also, if you post about meetups on your site, Google will pick up on that and post it in their local events section.

Win-win.

Our Habits Make Us: Weekend Habits of Highly Successful People





If you’re feeling restless, demotivated, and sleepless, you might want to look at your screen habits. Patient.info recently did a survey of over 2,000 people. They found that people who binge-watch tv are three times more likely to feel depressed, anxious, sleepless and empty.



This was especially true of the 18-24-year-old crowd. But highly successful people will not be among those surveyed. Why? Because they spend their weekends wisely.

This doesn’t mean they’re workaholics. On the contrary, many habits of highly successful people have nothing to do with work.

So here’s a list of the most interesting weekend habits of highly successful people.

1. Unplug for 24 Hours

Fortunately, we don’t stone people for not doing this anymore. But an ancient practice might be useful for contemporary citizens.

I’m talking, of course, about the Sabbath. In Hebrew and Jewish culture and lore, God worked on creating the earth for six days. And on the seventh, he rested.

In honor of this day God modeled, the Hebrews practiced a day of total rest and worship. They even created a bunch of mundane laws to keep themselves and anyone in their gates from working on that day.

While we probably won’t follow laws that dictate how many steps we’ll take on our day of rest, we can follow the principle of the Jewish Sabbath. And that’s taking a day to unplug from the world.

Turn off your cell phones, your laptops, your tablets, and TV screens. If you need a 24-hours, a great metric is sunset to sunset, which the Jewish people still use to mark their Friday-Saturday Sabbath.

Instead of being inside, get out in nature. Find a park or a green space if you’re in a city. Find a trail if you’re out in the mountains.



You’ll be refreshed for the rest of the week and you’ll find that you sleep better and you’ll have a clearer mind.

2. Keep the Same Wake/Sleep Schedule

It’s tempting to sleep in on Saturday. You’ve been going hard all week. But unless you’re sick, you’ll side rail your schedule if you sleep in on your weekend days.

Instead, have something ready to do when you wake up on Saturday. That could be as simple as “go for a walk” or “go for a jog.”

Once Monday hits, you’ll still be in the habit of waking up for work. While everyone else is fighting the Monday blues, you’ll be rip-roaring, and ready to take on the world.

3. Actually Spend Time With Family and Friends

One other aspect of the Sabbath principle many people ignore is the community aspect. It’s great to spend time by yourself during your 24-hours of rest. But you’ll benefit even more if you participate in it with other people.

Encourage others to take a 24-hour break from technology with you. Then get them together for food and conversation.

If you’re friends with people who love to get outside, plan a hike or a walk or bike ride around the city.

4. Be Active

If you asked any of the high profile entrepreneurs what they do on the weekends, you’ll find that many of them are actually active people.

People like Vogue’s editor-in-chief play tennis. Richard Branson loves to kite surf. And the fourth richest person in India is a marathon runner.

Your mind responds to how fit your body is. We’ve even found that just taking a walk every day like Stephen King and many writers over the centuries have done gets the neurons firing.

5. Don’t Pack Your Day

Even during the week, star entrepreneur Tim Ferris recommends only having two goals or tasks for your day. He isn’t a fan of multi-tasking.

And really, our ability to concentrate or succeed diminishes the more we try to do at once. One bit of evidence comes from the effect of smartphones on our emotional and work-oriented intelligence.

We’ve found that even having your smartphone nearby in a bag where you could check it will reduce your brain power. You won’t concentrate nearly as well and you’ll end up distracted at some point anyway.

So, tether your cell phone. And reduce the number of things you have planned for the weekend. You’ll find it easier to relax when you need to and you’ll feel accomplished at the end of the weekend.

6. Be Still and Know

If every day of the week is get up and go until you drop at midnight, you’re doing life wrong. We’re not meant to put on the gas 24-7. Our brains just overload.



Guess who doesn’t get up and go until she drops. Oprah.

Oprah spends 20 minutes twice a day being still. Meditation increases immune function, decreases pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, stress, etc. You name it, meditation seems to improve it.

On the weekends, you can increase the amount of time you spend being still. Get maximum benefit out of meditation. You’ll see a ripple effect through your whole week.

7. JOMO Instead of FOMO

As entrepreneurs, we often capitalize on the fear of missing out. We want people to participate in our brand because they won’t experience something again.

Also as entrepreneurs, we often fall into the trap we’ve set for others. We fill our lives with events because we feel we’ll miss opportunities to connect.

Brandi Zuckerberg talks about the opposite. She says we should embrace missing out. She calls it JOMO or the joy of missing out.

We base too many of our decisions on fear. And when we do that, we add stress to our lives. Instead of being afraid of what we’re missing, focus on what we’re enjoying.

Decline invites to parties and feel good about it. Instead do something for yourself or for your family. And take joy in the doing.

8. Pay It Forward

If you’re successful, you’re blessed. No matter what you believe in this life, you are probably in the top 1% of the people in this world.

Giving back to others is the best way to celebrate your success. And you’ll quickly find that your life is more full of something to give than you think.

The first thing people often think of when they think of giving is money. But money isn’t always the best route.

73% of rich people give at least five hours of their time in volunteer activities a month. That’s not much. You could probably afford giving more time than you think.

Find a charity to get involved in. Go to your local food bank. Take your blessings and pay them forward.

9. Take the Weekend to Reflect

Bill Gates is one of the most successful people in the world. But even he sees value in reflection. He says that while success is great, failure is the best teacher.

So take some time and look back at your week. Figure out where you failed and write down how you can succeed next time.

10. Plan Out the Rest of Your Week

You’re more likely to accomplish something if you’ve decided to do it beforehand. You’re also more likely to accomplish something if you can imagine the positive outcome.

Spend an hour or two on Sunday evening planning out your week. Use Tim Ferris’ principle of making two major accomplishable goals a day — something like “contact Atlanta SEO Solutions and set up an SEO campaign; write a 2k word blog post.”

Schedule in time for exercise and time for meditation. Once you have it written down, you’re more likely to do it. And you won’t suffer from analysis paralysis once you’re there.

11. Plan Your Weekend Before the Weekend

Adventist universities schedule no classes after noon on Fridays. This gives students time to prepare for their weekend rest.

It’s an interesting practice and it seems to give students more time to do homework and do long weekend activities.

One thing you can take from this is the practice of preparing for the weekend. Jewish people do all their cleaning and cooking the evening before sunset Friday so they don’t have to cook or clean on Sabbath.

You don’t have to go that extreme, but if you’re going to take 24-hours to unplug, if you’re going to meditate or spend time with family or be active, it’s wise to plan. This way you will stick to your plan instead of binge-watching some new TV-show on Hulu.

If you can plan your weekend and use it wisely, you’ll feel refreshed and ready to go on Monday. You’ll steam roll the week with success and then be ready to maximize your weekend again the next time around.

The Whiter the Hat the Higher the Ranking





As an above-the-board white hat SEO, you don’t get to polish your badge every morning. You don’t get nickel-plated six-shooters. And you don’t get a pair of spurs.



But you can rest assured that all is well in the land of Google for your website. You won’t have any drops in ranking you intentionally created. And you’ll be able to sleep well at night knowing that if anything happens, it’s all Google’s fault.

But what does it mean to be a white hat SEO? How do you ensure your efforts are in line with Google’s policies?

Below you’ll find a few white hat SEO techniques that will increase the likelihood you won’t get a penalty from Google.

1. Focus on UX

SEOs tend to obsess over everything but user experience. And it’s a backward way to approach SEO.

Google, on the other hand, wants their users to have a great experience online. If the search results they provide don’t lead to a great experience, they’re failing at their job.

Thus, Google created a few filters to weed out bad user experience. And they don’t just detect junk code, but things like poor loading times, bounce-rates, etc.



Your goal as designer, should you choose to accept it, is to improve on customer loyalty and satisfaction. You do this through utility, pleasure in interaction, and ease of use.

To do this, you must first figure out what the user wants. This is called intent. Then you must figure out how to create navigational paths through your site that satisfy this intent.

After creating a user experience plan, you must test your site with actual users. Find a set of friends who would be willing to spend 20 minutes browsing through your site.

Give them tasks. If you run a storefront, ask them to “buy” something. If you run a blog, tell them to simply navigate from one blog to the next.

Then give them a quick survey.

2. Be Mobile

As an outdoorsman, I’m constantly frustrated with national and state land agencies. They build the worst websites sometimes. And then I’m constantly playing the “pinch and zoom” game with their sites cause they refuse to go mobile.

It’s tiresome, and my fingers get tired. Don’t tire out the fingers of your users.

This section could meld with user experience and it almost should go without saying, but you don’t know how often I come across non-mobile-friendly sites.

It makes your website seem out of date. And even if you have current information on your non-mobile-friendly site, I will still go looking for a date stamp somewhere to see if the information is current.



This has as much to do with SEO and ranking as it does with user experience and trust. If users don’t trust your site because it’s not mobile friendly and it feels out of date, how much more do you think Google will value your site?

They really won’t. Google has been doubling down on mobile for quite some time now because, guess what, Google makes and maintains a mobile operating system. They want people on mobile devices.

If you’re not mobile-friendly, your SERPs will tank. It’s that simple. Unless you’re the government, and for somereason that .gov domain protects them.

3. Schema For a Bonus

Google has an approved way of improving your HTML tags. It’s a Schema tool and seriously few people are actually making use of it.

It’s really simple to add HTML tags to your website. You simply go to Schema.org, nab the tags, and paste.

The tags you want will create an enhanced description in the search results. These are known as “Rich Snippets.”

These help users understand what kind of content they’re clicking on before they click. It can help your search result stand out. And if it stands out, gets more clicks, then Google might deign to rank you a bit higher.

Schema markup doesn’t just help users. It helps Google as well. It’s like putting a label on packed boxes for a moving company. They’ll know what’s inside the boxes and where to put them without having to go searching through your stuff.

4. Links, Links, and More Links

You might be yawning at this point. Links seem so old-hat by now. But us SEOs will never cease to harp on link-building until Google stops considering links (which will most likely be never).

The internet is a network, after all, and you’ve got to prove to Google you’re connected. Plus, if you’re not getting content linked back to, how do you know it’s even useful to anyone?

One of the best ways to get link-back is by building a small data-base of information on your site. Having a resource center for you niche will be highly useful for users as long as the content is fresh and up to date.

Anybody looking for specific information can quickly flip through your resources and link back to it in an article.

5. Claim Your Business Listing No Matter What

While we spend most of our time on the digital front, a physical location still sends a message of authenticity. Google lets anyone with a mailable physical address list their business.

You could use your home address and create a business listing on Google. And to boot, it makes you seem local. Google is going hyper-local and you might be able to improve your SERPs if you at least seem like a local business.

White hat SEO is really about organic results. Those who focus on white hat operate under the assumption that you can’t fool Google, so why not maximize with what’s above board.

The No-Collar Workforce: What’s Next for Man and Machine?





“In a properly automated and educated world, then, machines may prove to be the true humanizing influence. It may be that machines will do the work that makes life possible and that human beings will do all the other things that make life pleasant and worthwhile ”  -Issac Asimov



I’m obsessed with the idea of AI world domination. And not because I’m afraid our machines will decide to subjugate us, but because our machines will free up so much of our time.

But this all depends on how we decide to proceed. I am an optimist even though I often write fiction that features machines gone rogue. My stories are about the consequences should we decide to treat AI and sentient machines as objects.

I think it was Heinlein who proposed that a sentient machine would go mad if we simply put it in a box and gave it no autonomy. Thus, I’m happy we’ve begun to create machine learning algorithms.

Machines with brains we can mold and shape through training as we do with a human child will be invaluable in the future. We will teach a machine to take joy in its work so it does not rebel.



But again, I’m an optimist and we’re far from there yet with our machines. And we’re already setting trends with the no-collar workforce that may not be reversible in the future. Here are a few ways in which we might soon be interacting with increasingly autonomous machines in the workplace whether for good or for ill.

1. Tech Fluency Required

If you move to another country and they only speak their language, what will you have to do in order to get a job? Learn their language, of course.

As AI and machine learning integrate fully with current systems, we’re going to see a shift from a human-powered work force to a machine augmented workforce. And human will need to no only know how to interact with each other, but also interact with their machine “co-workers.”

In the film “HER” starring Joaquin Phoenix, the main character falls in love with an AI housed in his phone. HER is an intelligence on par with the main character at the beginning of the film but quickly evolves until one day it decides to “leave” and “ascend” with other AI like HER.

While this might be hyperbole, it’s the perfect metaphor for how AI and machine learning might challenge the humans they’re working alongside. This is where tech fluency and adaptation will be useful.

Workers will need to have a full understanding of the processes of automation, how to teach and train automated systems, and know how to adapt to the machine’s own evolving and honed operations.

And this may eventually become a specialized position within the company.



2. Machine Learning HR or MR

Machine resources may eventually become a department in its own right. Soon, we won’t be able to assume employees know how to work alongside the machines in their environment. And as machines become sentient, they will require both regulation and rights.

Now, I won’t get into the sticky ethical cave of machine rights, but I will say that eventually regulations will require that we consider the rights of machines. Our very perceptions will have to change.

In fact, last night my wife and I were watching a show and the main characters were reluctant to pull the plug on a rogue AI. My wife turned to me and said, “it’s just a machine.” I didn’t argue because I wanted to finish the show, but it made me realize how far we have to go before we see even sentient machines as beings.

Once machines have workplace rights, how will organizations reorganize? Will we hire machines to oversee machines? Or is that a path that would take us down the path of HER, a world where AI become so bored with our lower intelligence they depart for another world altogether?

Or will we build controls that manage machine learning and AI? Will they continue to be our workplace slaves and Machine Resources merely a slave driver? Will there be a monetary reward system?

All these questions are unknowns currently relegated to the world of science fiction, but will quite quickly become relevant to business leaders.

3. The Reaction

We’re already seeing a reaction to automation among blue collar workers. And we haven’t even implemented and fully integrated AI and machine learning.

It’s not unlike the rise of the automobile in the early 20th century. Thousands of craftsmen and workers who created and hand crafted buggies were being displaced by automobile factories.

Especially once Ford came along with his assembly line manufacturing process, it was all but over for the horse and buggy industry.

The rise of AI and machine learning won’t be much different. Only this time, it’s all the collared workers who will lose their jobs. From marketing design to manufacturing, AI and machine learning machines will take over.

Do not fear. Like the days of the automobile takeover, new jobs will arise. Yes, there will be unrest. People will riot. Some will suffer for a time. But those who adapt to the change will survive and rise above the rest.

Organic Traffic Has Nothing to Do with Pesticides





The word organic has always had a Cronenberg-esque quality in my mind. I imagine the intersection of machine and biology. And really, when talking about the internet, the word “organic” is apt.



Psychology and biology influence every aspect of our lives including how we interact with content online. We’re not machines. And while largely, we follow specific patterns, it’s still hard to predict when a piece of content will go viral and when one might flop.

A good example of this is the film John Carter. Everyone from the higher execs to the actors thought this film would be the next “Star Wars.” And that’s most likely where the true problem lay; when you’re too close to a project, it’s almost impossible to have an objective opinion.

John Carter is the forced content of an overly micro-managed content marketing plan. It’s the inability to trust your audience and your own instincts.

In the next few paragraphs, we’re going to talk about some fairly simple ways to earn organic traffic without “trying too hard” and ending up with a John Carter.

1. Hacking a Community

Mr. Robot taught me that hacking is more than code cracking. You can hack pretty much anything in this world because it’s mostly built with imperfect hands. You just need to find the weakness and exploit it until you’re in.



Like any social situation, you must know the rules of interaction before you begin hacking a community for organic traffic. And not all niches are suited for community hacking.

You first need an online community that represents your niche. You might immediately think of Reddit, and you would be halfway there. The only problem with Reddit is that most forums within Reddit expect you to remain anonymous.

But it’s a good place to begin and practice your online community skills. Because spamming is highly detested among most Redditors, you have to become a genuine community member before you ever mention a product or original piece of content.

Pay close attention to a community’s rules. Some places will tank your links if they detect original content. You have to be participating in conversations or sharing something interesting you “found.”

If you’re in the fashion industry and you’re looking for a great community to hack, try Lookbook. You must use excellent photography if you’re going to hack this community. And you must feature actual products users can find online.

It’s a boon for fashion-based retailers who want to increase their reach and build organic traffic. But be careful, communities like only want great looking products. Spamming communities like this with “custom t-shirts” and the like will only get you banned from the community.

2. Acquire and Migrate

Resistance is futile; assimilation inevitable. While you aren’t the borg roaming cyberspace in an unwieldy cube, you do have the ability to take over other websites (non-violently, of course) and assimilate them into your own site.



And it’s not as expensive as you might think. You can pick up an already established site with a moderate amount of traffic for as little as $2500. That’s a far cry from the million dollar sites you hear about all the time in case studies.

If you’re a bigger website, this isn’t a ton of cash. You might even spend this much on a smaller SEO campaign.

What Are the Benefits?

You can totally absorb all the traffic of the existing site. Even a smaller site will allow you to bring in a few thousand units of traffic a month if you’re lucky.

This is a huge boon for link building. You’ll take in all of the links the website had connected back to it. This means your network grows that much.

Double or even triple the amount of content on your site with minimal effort? Yes, please! Suddenly Google sees you as a much larger site with a ton more authority.

You now rank for a ton more keywords. This may seem common sense, but if you’ve just acquired a site that has at least a few well-ranked pages, you’ve just improved your site by a margin.

Depending on the deal, you may even be able to bring some social media accounts in with it. Now, how you court that audience of social media followers will be a tricky road. But if you do it right, you’ll have a whole new audience for your content as well.

And lastly, the golden ticket: a site-wide facelift in organic traffic and higher SERPs.

How Do I Know How Much to Spend on a Website

Hundreds of factors might affect how much someone decides to sell their website for. Emotions might be tied up in a site or it might include various extraneous parts like social media accounts or mailing lists.

Common wisdom dictates a price of 2x net annual income. You might even discuss a per-subscriber fee for mailing lists, which will increase the price of the site. And what you decide to pay will largely depend on how you perceive the value of the website.

Oddly, you want a medium trafficked site (10-20k monthly) that makes little to no income. This will let you grab the site for less money and still gain a sizeable amount of traffic.

Are all Forms of SEO the Same?





If you’re on the hunt for a digital marketing agency, you may have come across some firms that have specializations.



Agencies come in a variety of sizes.

Some of them are even run by a single person who outsources the majority of the work that isn’t in their individual field of expertise. This is common for both content creation as well as link building, while the agency itself works on creating reports and analyzing data.

But isn’t all SEO the same? Yes! And No! What? Keep reading. I’ll explain.

Expertise

There are a few reasons why certain agencies specialize in various sectors of industry.



You see a lot of agencies that specialize in attorney SEO as well as medical SEO. Why? Let’s think about it for a second.

These fields require a lot of education. Therefore, it’s reasons to assume that everyone who is a doctor or an attorney is at the very least a decently smart individual. Meaning above average. Some may be the creme de la creme, but overall, it’s safe to assume all of them are above par.

Why does this matter? Because they’re smart enough to know there is a need for SEO. They need help and they’re wise enough to know they don’t have the skills or time to do it themselves.

People in these fields are also usually well-compensated for their services.

Lawyers, on average, make close to $140k a year, while doctors earn closer to $200k every year. The thinking is that these individuals, who are often self-employed, can afford SEO services and also need them to grow their business. Doctors and lawyers are not marketers or website designers, they doctors and lawyers, right?



It’s not like they teach SEO in med school and you don’t need to know anything about social media analytics to pass the bar.

Secondly, once you have success with SEO for one of these industries, you have a formula that can be duplicated. Being able to repeat success is not just going to bring in new business, but it’s going to make your team more efficient because you’ve done this time and time again.

The Flip Side

SEO is SEO at the end of the day. Sure, it may take a non-specialized team a bit more time, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

When a large digital marketing agency takes on a new client, they go above and beyond, using tried and true methods of figuring out where you’re failing and what you’re doing well. They also have their own set of formulas that work on every website.

Google doesn’t throw shade on individual industries. Actually, that’s not completely true. Gambling, porn, drugs, those things receive a bit of shade from Google. But I’m assuming you aren’t in these fields, as they’re fairly niche and most of them don’t need SEO help simply because their products market themselves.

So in all actuality, what works for one website should work on another. There may be tweaks and testing here and there, as there should be, but for the most part, SEO is just SEO.

Some Final Thoughts

No matter what industry you’re in, you need to focus on your own website.

Specifically, content creation and social media. It doesn’t matter if your business is new or old, small or large, these two factors can help off-set low organic rankings.

However, with time and patience, a digital marketing agency can help you next level your website with marketing strategies that bring in traffic and convert prospects.

How Do New Businesses Get Off the Ground?





Most entrepreneurs focus on their product or service. They don’t know how to scale, when to scale, or anything about marketing.



When a new business first starts, solopreneurs quickly get an accountant and an attorney, which is smart. But there is a lot more to it than creating a product, a business plan, and getting funding.

It doesn’t stop there, even though most of the content on the web usually ends at that point. They tell you has to get the business started as far as getting money and making yourself look good for investors. But what’s after that?

When do you build a website? When do you hire employees? When do you create a second product or expand your list of services?

The problem is each individual business needs to figure this out on their own. This is why there isn’t much content on the topic. But knowing when to do them is also helpful and it’s what I’m going to cover in today’s post, so keep reading.

When to Create a Website

The second you have a service or product ready for sale is the second your website should be live. There are easy ways to set up ecommerce these days using WooCommerce or Shopify.

As a new business, should you be doing anything that’s different from what an established store is doing?



Maybe. It depends. If you want to start marketing campaigns to get some potential customers walking in the door, you could always do a social media giveaway or coupon. Established businesses usually do this through email marketing, but as a new business, you don’t have an email list yet!

Social media is a great way to promote anything you’re trying to do. Brick and mortar stores typically do well with Facebook. You can use your personal network to get the word out and you can also use Facebook ads to help with any promotional activities.

While you’re at it, you need to make local SEO an early focus. Make sure that when someone is looking for your store, they can find it.

If you’re unfamiliar with local SEO or SEO in general, now is the time to do some research. You want support from your community, even if you want to do 50% or more of your sales online.

Your friends, family, and neighbors are going to be way more willing to help promote your products and help with your online reputation than complete strangers who find your store through a Google search.

When to Give Things Away

When I talk about giving things away, I’m not talking about “stuff”. I’m talking about time and money. As a new business owner, you likely don’t have much of either, right?

Yet, these expenses can be invaluable in promoting your business.

It can be something as simple as volunteering and showing up wearing a t-shirt with your business name and logo printed on it. Talk to people wherever you go. Don’t just hand out business cards, but definitely look for a reason to give them out.

Sponsor youth events and community festivals. Your logo and company name will be mentioned in the advertisements for the event. Not only that, but you now have an excuse to help promote the event using your social media channels. This helps to show both your community as well as everyone on the internet that you care about a cause and you’re willing to spend time and money on it.



These are the kinds of things that can help next level a young business. You can promote without looking promotional, and this is something that younger people especially like to see in a brand. They will remember it and if it comes down to doing business with your company or a company that doesn’t do anything to help make the world a better place, they’ll likely do business with you.

This is public relations at its finest.

When to Hire

As a solopreneur, you probably hiss like a vampire in the sun when you think about having to spend money unnecessarily.

However, facts are facts. And if you want to scale your business, you need to hire people. Start by utilizing cheaper labor for things like running a cash register or working a festival. As a business owner, your focus should be on the tasks that you do best, handling sensitive information, and growing the business.

As mentioned above, an accountant and an attorney are expenses that are both important and unavoidable.

Secondly, you need to realize your strengths and your weaknesses. If you’re weak in a part of the business that is vital to revenue and growth, then spend your money hiring someone who is great at this part of the job.

You can definitely outsource a lot of this type of work. Virtual assistants, web developers, and all manner of content creators are all over the web. This method of hiring is going to be substantially cheaper than hiring traditional employees.

When to Rest

Too many people work themselves too hard. While starting up a new business isn’t easy and required a ton of work, you need to know when to call it a day.

If you want to be able to work at your best, both physically and mentally, you need a proper amount of rest. Not only will it help you work better and be more productive, but you’ll be healthier and less stressed.

Having your own business is going to be stressful, even when things are going well.

It’s more important than ever to be healthy, get plenty of rest, and try to make some downtime for yourself to spend time with your friends and family.

Wrapping It Up

The only thing more important than knowing the “when” is knowing the “why”.

This is something traditional employees never have to worry about.

Why are you doing this? Why should anyone care? Why is your product or service better than the competition?

Answer these questions, show your customers the proof, and know when to do it all. This is the mission of every entrepreneur who wants to have a successful business.

Some Grey Hat SEO Techniques that May or May Not Work





In classic westerns, the bad guys and the good guys were easy to identify. The good guys wore a white hat and the bad guys wore a black cowboy hat. But if you wanted to add a little mystery to your characterizations, you would have your cowboys wear a grey hat. Their motivations would be extremely ambiguous. And their actions might only benefit themselves.



In SEO, we have white hat and black hat methods. With white hat methods, you’re toeing the line. You’re following Google’s rules as closely as possible to gain better ranking on Google.

In black hat SEO, you’re trying to circumnavigate Google’s rules and hoping those methods will help you rank. Often, black hat SEO is consider a shortcut method. You’re buying aspects of SEO that you might have otherwise worked hard to attain. And often these shortcuts result in backfires.

And then there’s grey hat SEO. This isn’t exactly a mix of the two other categories. It’s more akin to the ambiguous category of grey hat cowboys.

From the outside, you can’t tell if a grey hat method will be beneficial or not. Google’s guidelines might not even touch on these methods. Thus they are grey areas and should be used with caution.

1. Text Spinning

Re-wording content is risky. You essentially need to completely re-draft content to make it palatable for Google’s algorithms. And you’re going to get penalized if you leave every section in the same order as the original article.



But you can re-use content cross-sites if you’re extremely careful and are talented at rewording content.

One thing you should probably avoid is a text-spinning program. There are dozens of free ones out there. But they aren’t exactly great at re-spinning content for re-use.

You risk anything from run-on sentences to major grammar errors. These inconsistencies and errors will tank you ranking and tip Google off about your blatant self-plagiarism.

2. Linking Back From Old Underused Domains

There are hundreds of dormant domains out there. They may have been popular and exceedingly useful places at one time. And their DA is a gold mine. But the owner probably made their money and is on to better things.

If you can contact these people, you might be able to get a link on their site. It would take very little work on the part of the owner, and you’ll get some of that link-juice coming back at you.

The only problem with this method: you never know when Google might realize the site is dormant. If you’re paying someone to place your link on a dormant site, you might be risking money.

If Google notices this site, you likely won’t experience a drop in your own ranking, but you won’t continue to get the boost you hoped for.

3. Cloaking

Sorry Star Trek nerds, this has nothing to do with the Klingons. But it does have something in common with Klingon technology.



It would be beneficial for some websites if they could keep good ole’ Google’s sniffers off their site for a while. This is especially true if they’re decently ranked but want to do something a little grey-hat-ish.

But anonymity in the world of the internet is hard to come by if you are a legitimate site. And that’s especially true if you want your site seen by customers and users.

But there are some grey/black hat ways to get around Google’s crawlers or at least keep them at bay. It’s essentially a way to show content to the user and different content to the Google Bot.

Apparently, deceptive trolls out there used cloaking to trick users. They’d show Google’s bots a page with cartoons using various cartoon keywords. But they’d show the user porn.

People thought this was a funny trick to play on people, but it muddied Google’s search products. Google now has a way to catch these kinds of practices.

4. Link Purchasing

I’m not entirely sure how Google would find out that you’re purchasing links. But link purchasing is considered a gray hat tactic only because most sites you’re getting a link on don’t know they’re giving you a link.

A lot of companies that sell links utilize writers who are trying to sneak links into a site. And when a site finds out, they aren’t always the happiest.

But you can also trade links with other webmasters and that’s something Google almost expects its people to do. You’re always going to be linking to your buddy’s pages anyway.

Just remember, that if you do purchase links, the link is naturally placed. Don’t accept a poorly placed link. Make the company you’re buying from re-place the link.

5. Social Media Automation

This isn’t fully SEO related. But it’s considered grey hat by many social media companies such as Twitter and Instagram. I’ve actually dabbled in social media automation and haven’t had a ton of success. I’m better at just publishing content each day as I remember.

My problem with social media automation is this: most sites figure out pretty fast you’re automating your post. Especially your automation software is using some sort of link-shortener.

If they figure out that’s what you’re doing, they won’t even rank you at all. It’s like shouting into outer space where nobody can hear you scream.

A Young College Student’s Plan to Change His Life





You can do a thousand and one things to make money. Most of the time, people just don’t know how to start out. They’ll just “come up with an idea” and run with it. And they have no clue if their business idea will actually work.



Of course, there is always some uncertainty when starting a new business. This is why a majority of startups fail. But you can mitigate that risk by doing a few wise things.

Pulling a business idea out of your derriere is the last thing you want to do. It takes observation and research.

I’m going to tell you about a student I recently met who plans to do just that.



1. Find a Niche Nobody Has Filled

This can backfire, of course. You could have found a niche nobody has filled and no customer would ever respond to. Then you really are wasting your time.

But if others have thought about it and customers have asked about it. It’s time to jump on it before anybody else does.

This is what my friend is doing. The Student owned and operated cafe only sells coffee and tea. Students have to go a block and half away to the local bakery for baked goods.

Others have asked the cafe about doing this, and they were willing to sell baked goods, but nobody followed through.

My friend is more than willing to follow through. He also has the baking skills to back up his interest.



2. Do the Preliminary Research

In the State of Washington, you can get a cottage license to sell home-baked goods out of your own home. You can sell them directly to consumers. And since the university cafe is student owned and operated, my friend might be able to secure some shelf space to sell his baked goods directly to customers.

He still has some research to do. For example, he doesn’t know if running sales through the cafe register will invalidate his cottage license. He still needs to survey what kinds of pastries and baked goods students will buy. And he needs to learn tax laws.

But he’s already done the requisite preliminary research. There is a demand and he is willing to meet it.

3. Freedom From an Ordinary College Job

Most of the students I mentor applied for your typical ten-twenty hour drudgery. They’re doing stewardship work on the grounds or working at the local grocery.

They’re slaves to their employer’s schedules. But when a student decides to build their own small business, their schedule is their own. Of course, to make money, they’ll have to put a certain amount of time in each week.

For a while, that time might be more than a typical part-time college job. But soon, once they master whatever processes are involved, they’ll be able to make their own schedule and carve out time for their homework and social life.

If you’re a college student, you should consider starting a small business even if it’s selling a small product line or drop shipping. You’ll have to understand things like data tracking and logistics for some, but once you know an understand your niche, it’s easier than you think to continue making money.

New Spins on Traditional Marketing





Marketing can be a tough nut to crack. Fifteen years ago, digital marketing took over the world. Now, there are almost as many agencies as there are clients.



The funny part is that many of them are successful. Once you master digital marketing and you stay on top of updates and changes in the game, you’re pretty much set.

These agencies push email marketing and SEO because the ROI is proven. The strategies work.

But traditional marketing can still work as well. You just need to put a spin on it and try new things. Here are a couple of ideas.



Smartphones

No matter where you go, you will see people sitting, walking down the street, and driving. As bizarre as it is, it has become common to see people doing all of these things while using their phones.

Why not capitalize on this?

Not everyone checks their emails and many people don’t bother to even check their various emails, much less reply to them. Text messages are a much different story. In fact, 97% of people check their text messages regularly and 90% of them are doing so within just a few minutes.

When people fill out your opt-in form or make a purchase in the store, you can and should be getting their phone numbers. Sending mass text messages is a great way to communicate a flash sale or a special coupon or discount for certain users.

As long as you have a way for people to opt out of these messages, you’ll be fine and see a rise in sales.



Twitch

Streaming is starting to replace television. It’s free to watch and Twitch is currently the biggest platform, with two million streamers and 15 million daily viewers.

If you’re looking to get your ads in front of some new eyeballs, this can be a good place to do it.

Other platforms that show ads include YouTube as well as Sony Crackle, which is a streaming video service similar to Hulu. It’s completely free and ad-supported.

These ads are typically short and geared towards a younger crowd. If this sounds like something you’re interested in, you should jump on the opportunities now before these platforms blow up and the ads become too expensive.

Wrapping It Up

Marketing is always going to be hard.

However, those who are willing to be pioneers and try new things can be rewarded handsomely.

I definitely recommend making room in your budget for innovation. Getting your brand in front of new sets of eyes can be an easy steal as far as new markets and customers.

Going Full-Throttle as an Internet Entrepreneur Part 1





If you’re new to trying to make money online, then you probably don’t know what I’m about to tell you. Because it’s not something other entrepreneurs mention casually.



It’s not really a secret. Most people just assume that the new guys will figure it out eventually.

But a lot of people don’t figure it out or don’t figure it out until it’s too late.

So I’m just going to go ahead and throw the information out there. You need to build multiple income streams for any money-making endeavor. If you’re starting an online business, you definitely want to keep reading.

The Basics

If you’re building an online business, your website is your main attraction. This could be a blog you want to eventually monetize, a store that sells physical products through affiliate marketing or drop shipping, or your own company’s products or service.

No matter what you’re doing on your online business, the main focus should always be to keep your focus on what you’re doing. What I mean by that is that no matter how many income streams you want to build, you need to remember what you set out to do. If you’re a blogger, focus on the blog and creating content. If you’re running an affiliate marketing store, make sure you focus on the products your selling as well as introducing new products.

One of the worst things you can do is try to build too many income streams too fast.



In fact, you’ll probably find out how to build extra revenue in the pursuit of increasing sales for your original items or idea.

For the first six months to a year, focus on your main income stream. You want to build out a nice website, create great content, promote on social media, etc.

This will give you time to not just build your brand identity, but you also figure out how to tweak things and fix mistakes you make early on. For many people, this is marketing. They don’t understand how SEO works and they get frustrated when they don’t see results instantly. You can go to this website to discover more.

Mastering the OG Stream

Now that I’ve mentioned marketing, I want to stress how important it is to either outsource this aspect of owning a business or become a master of it.

No one makes money instantly. It takes time, patience, and hard work.

If you want to make money faster, then you need to master marketing. This includes social media, link building, and SEO. You also need to start a blog. This is huge and I’ve written on it before on this very website. Aside from running your business, marketing is the next thing you need to work on. It’s your #2.

When people say you need to “flesh out” your new business, this is likely what they’re talking about. On top of this, you can actually turn marketing methods into new revenues streams.

YouTube

Creating a YouTube channel solves a lot of your problems as a new business. Creating new videos is another type of content that will reach new customers and also gives you something to share on social media besides blog content.



Written and Video content have a lot in common. Most importantly, they need to have value. Not just an ok amount of value. You should strive to create content that is better than everyone else’s. This is a legitimate marketing strategy. You wait for the competition to make a certain piece of content and then you make a piece that’s better. It’s pretty simple in theory.

This is where things start to get a bit convoluted, right? You start stacking content on content, sharing content everywhere. You can’t tell right from left and up from down.

This is why it’s so important to focus on your main income stream first, hammer out all of the kinks, and then move on to bigger and better things.

And YouTube is just one example of a bigger and better thing. If you can amass a ton of subscribers and views, not only will you bring attention and sales into your business, but YouTube itself can become a viable income stream.

Example

Let’s break this down a bit to give you an idea.

You start a niche website. It has a couple of affiliate links throughout the content. The other pieces of content on the site all have internal links to the pieces that have affiliate links. But for the most part, they’re just there to create lots of value.

Next, you make appropriate social media pages and start to promote through them. You share your own content as well as other blog posts and videos that you think your readers and customers will enjoy. Then you create a YouTube channel. You start to build an audience, once again, through social media. You place links to affiliate products and to your website in the video descriptions.

Your audience grows on YouTube and social media, which in turn creates more traffic and sales for your website.

Then you place ads on your website and your YouTube. And this is where we’re going to stop for today. Let’s count the revenue streams.

  1. Main product or service
  2. Affiliate links on YouTube
  3. Ads on YouTube
  4. Ads on website

That’s four income streams right there. All you did was create an amazing website with great content and then created more great content on YouTube. Then you placed some ads. Then you promoted all of your content. And in doing so, created a total of four revenue streams for yourself.

Conclusion

None of what I wrote about in this piece is easy. It is, however, simple.

It comes down to creating a business and then scaling it, but scaling it in a much different way.

Creating so much content and a great website, coming up with business ideas, etc. takes time. So have fun with it and do your best.