6 SEO Myths That Prove We’re All Idiots





Humans will do anything to look smart and competent. Comedians like Jimmy Kimmel feed off of this propensity for hubris. And then we all benefit from it. Try it for yourself sometime. Go up to a random stranger and ask, “Do you think Bill Clinton gets enough credit for ending the Korean War?” (HINT: He wasn’t old enough to be President of the United States during the Korean War.)



Ironically, this behavior often exposes our ineptitude.

SEOs and bloggers are no different. We want to look like experts so bad we bullshit our way into corners all the time

Here are a few ways SEOs B.S. themselves all the time and really make themselves look like idiots.

1. Do What These Massive Brands Are Doing

When I was a kid, I played the game Lemmings. Often, I’d get bored with a particularly difficult level and just set up traps for my lemmings rather than rescue them. I’d watch them all follow the digger to hell and then hit the nuke button.

The fact a lemming is bigger and healthier looking than the other lemmings doesn’t change the fact it’s a lemming. That lemming still might be heading for a cliff.

Big brands aren’t always wise sages, especially when it comes to SEO. Think of it this way: a bigger brand has a much wider margin of error than you do. If they make a mistake, they can bounce back when you might splat at the bottom.

You’re also assuming their HR department knows what they’re doing when they hire SEOs and web designers. Often the philosophy of “throw money at it to make it grow” doesn’t work. And that’s exactly how some big brands function once they get the big cash.



Don’t be a lemming, seek real advice.

2. SEO is Snake Oil

Ok, SEOs typically don’t say this. They wouldn’t make any money this way.

But I’ve heard it from Google employees, bloggers, and anyone who just doesn’t want to do the work of ranking well. I even had a friend from YouTube tell me this, backpedal, and then say, “well, it’s just that the target is constantly shifting.”

There’s a lot of surface-level SEO information out there. And while it’s not exactly snake oil, it’s often not enough to have any real impact on your SERPs.

SEO is like psychology. It’s a soft science.

We can’t peak into the box and know what’s going on but we can observe the effects. Sometimes Google will give us a heads-up, but often we’re scrambling to patch holes after the fact.

This can make it seem like SEOs are behind the curve, but they’re more in the know than anyone else. It’s not an exact science, but it’s not snake oil either.

3. Worry About Keyword Stuffing

Seriously? What year is this? 2012?

Can we be done with the keyword stuffing thing yet? No? Well, I guess we gotta slay this beast while we’re here.

Sure, keywords still matter a *little* bit. But here’s the bite: they gotta be so natural, even you don’t see them as keywords.



Google’s RankBrain is now all about user intent. It’s so important to give users what they’re looking for that keywords almost don’t matter anymore.

Where Then Are Keywords Relevant?

Until our language goes fully pictographic, search engines will continue to take keywords into account. And you should definitely research a keyword to put in your title tag.

Otherwise, just be natural (grammatically correct, and concise, and…well, content is king, right?).

4. Content is King

Aw, what? Didn’t I just say content is king? Yeah, yeah, I know, plot-holes, right?

But this myth is just like the “write what you know” rule in writing. People take it, run with it and have no clue what the hell they’re even doing. And then they end up writing boring crap because their life is so boring.

Novice bloggers do the same thing with content. If you write it, they will come, right?

Wrong. You need more than just content (even great content) to make the SEO wheels turn. We’re looking at links, tags, design, usability, speed…

Yeah, content is just an important piece of the puzzle, one you can’t do without. But it’s not the end-all of SEO.

5. Links Are a Dead Horse

I’ve said this before, but the internet is — drumroll please — a network! Without links, you are just a powerless tool in a sea of well-connected and well-dressed geniuses.

It’s just that, like keywords, and content, links are only one step in many to get you to the SERP prize. No, don’t put a billion links in, but don’t ignore them either.

Don’t go buying links for cheap either. Negotiate for access to high ranking sites instead. And again, be natural.

6. Google is Penalizing You

I only cried once in Hockey. I’d just come back after time off from a broken ankle and I was reckless on the ice. I almost whacked someone in the throat with my stick. I ended up in the penalty box a teenage mess because I had lost skill.

Google’s algorithms aren’t referees. They’re a content elevator. When one site drops in the rankings, it’s because of a change in the algorithm they weren’t ready for. It also means another site was ready (knowingly or not).

There is no Google algo penalty box. There are referees at Google, but Google actually notifies you on the Google Search Console when you’ve violated their Webmaster Guidelines.

Talking about SERP rank changes like hockey penalties only serves to malign Google and cause confusion.

Don’t Be an Idiot

Humility is an underrated quality in our society. I’ve found that when you admit ignorance, you’re rewarded with knowledge.

Only idiots pretend to know eveything. If you’re on the SEO struggle bus, seek help. Your SERPs will thank you.

 

Your Sales Funnel is a Sieve: Here’s How to Plug the Holes





 

1. Where Are the Holes?

In a movie set in space, there will always be a “punctured hull scene.” It’s like a Nicholas Sparks movie and terminal illness.
First, a rock or a bit of debris punctures the hull. Then an alarm goes off. And then the space denizens panic.
What’s the first thing they do? Look for the hole.
This is your first step. Look for the holes in the sieve.

Hole #1: Little Data Tracking

I recently had to run at night on a mountain trail. If I hadn’t had my headlamp, what would have happened? I’d have literally bit the dirt (and probably a granite rock the size of grandma).
Lack of data tracking is like lack of headlamp on mountain trails at night. The light gives me visual data on the trail so I can change course when needed.
Same with sales funnels. If you don’t have data on your middle conversions, you have no idea what’s working and what isn’t. All you have is the result.
You can’t fix the holes in your sales funnel because you aren’t actually looking for holes. You’re a Sales Jumblie ignoring your friends who think you’re gonna drown!

Hole #2: Follow Up?

Sales funnels are never set it and forget it. Yet, 48% of sales reps must think this is true. They never follow up with a prospective or a lead.
Sometimes it takes as many as 12 contacts to make a sale. That’s the full definition of try-try-again. If you think 12 follow-ups is a waste of your time, maybe you should go and do something else.

Hole #3: Wasting Time With Lead Generation

You can find a billion articles online about lead generation. It’s a hot topic. They think that if they stuff as many people as possible into their funnel more people will drop through.
The problem is: at a certain point, the same number of people drop through no matter how many leads you generate. It’s like a conventional real-life funnel. The end is only so big.
Stop lead generation research right now. You probably get enough leads already. You’re wasting your time and expending too much energy. Just relax, ok?

2. How to Stop Up the Holes

In a “punctured hull scene,” once the protagonist finds the hole, they frantically look for something to plug it with. If they don’t plug the hole, all their oxygen will be gone and the pressure will equalize meaning they will die in a vacuum.
For a space hero, this could mean any number of things. A fire extinguisher, a metal crate, or even a piece of metal alloy bigger than the hole.
There are a variety of ways to fix your sieve and turn it into a real funnel.

Fix #1: Track Those Touch Points

No matter when a customer or lead makes contact, track it. This means that if a customer has already purchased something and they come back again, you track it.



If they’ve come back three times without ever purchasing, track it. This is called touch-point tracking. From here you follow leads all the way to full conversion if they make it.

Once you’ve tracked this data, you can begin to make a customer journey map. You can then replicate this journey for your most legitimate customers and leads.



Fix #2: Simply Follow Up

Again, 12 times might be the charm. Keep going.

There are easier ways to do lead follow up than manual e-mails and phone calls. E-mail automation is a thing.

Automate your sales process as much as possible. This will allow you more time to find new leads while courting current ones.

This also means you’ll be able to run a 24-hour sales funnel operation.



Bots can help with this. Say you’re a small college trying to attract students. You can’t have an admissions digital marketing rep on call 24-7. But a bot can cover the time when your rep is sleeping.

Fix #3: Offer Something Irresistible for Free

There’s a lot of schlock on Amazon that’s free. And most of the schlock doesn’t get read.

This should be a valuable lesson for anyone trying to generate leads. You’re wasting your time with free scholck.

If it’s not worth your time to even engage, why would you even click?

Opt-in’s are great if they actually shove people toward the end of your funnel. But you’ll need to drive people in with limited time offers.

Without FOMO, you’ll never get people close to the end of your funnel. This is the step beyond generation you need to focus on.

Now You’re a Wise Jumblie

Now you can go to sea in a funnel…oh, wait, the metaphor breaks down there. I guess you now have a fairly leak-proof and effective funnel.
Where have you seen your funnel be ineffective? Let me know down in the comments below and maybe I can help you patch them.
 

5 Ways to Make More Money with Your Next Webinar





Webinars are still one of the best ways to build a mailing, engage with a live audience, and convert users into sales. While we aren’t seeing the massive influx of webinars everywhere like we were a couple of years ago, they are still being used by some of the top marketers and brands in the world today. However, running a webinar and being able to make a full-time living off them are two completely different things. If you want to find success with online marketing and running webinars of your own, you need to use all of the same webinar services and methods the big players are using.



By implementing the following five tips for your next webinar and marketing efforts, there is no doubt you will see improved engagement, conversions, and ROI across the board.

 

1 – Create ONE Really Great Webinar and Use it Over and Over Again

If you’ve ever had to speak at a conference or create a PowerPoint slide for a class or work project, you can start to imagine how much work it takes to create a great webinar. In addition to having amazing visual content, you also need to keep the attention of your audience and know all of your speaking points as well.

Knowing all of this, you should also realize the importance of having ONE really great webinar template and message that you can continually use time and time again. Not only will this save you time, it will also make you a better speaker and presenter in the process. The more webinars you run, the better user engagement and conversions you will continue to see.



2 – Automate and Replicate Whenever Possible

As great as webinars are, they definitely can take a lot of time to create, schedule, run, and market. The good news is that there are ways to automate and replicate the process.

Also, take note that LIVE webinars with real Q&A at the end of the session will almost always perform better. However, with time being an issue for everyone, if you can record one of your best webinars and set it up for automation and renewing for new attendees daily, this is a great way to multiply your earnings and lead generation, without having to dedicate 2+ hours per day to running live webinars time and time again.

3 – Make Sure You have a High Ticket Item to Sell

If you’ve ever attended a webinar before, the process is usually the same. It will start off with the webinar host sharing their personal story and going over a problem or obstacle they’ve had to deal with. At the same time, it’s important for the host to relate to the audience and their common obstacles as well.

The majority of the webinar will cover these topics and different success stories as well. The remainder (or closing) of the webinar will then show a solution, and then follow up with a salesy promotion on how to get access to such a solution.

Webinars are great for selling high-ticket items, because anyone who has spent the past 30-60 minutes attending and listening, are more likely to take action than anyone else who might randomly come across your $997+ product. Once you’ve mastered the process, webinars are simply one of the best ways to make the most of your site content, over and over again.

With all of this in mind, it’s also important to make sure you price your offer right. The most effective webinars and online marketers will usually offer something in the $497 to $1997 range, as this will allow them to invest a decent amount of money in the webinar promotion process. If you have a product that is priced too high or too low, you could end up losing money.



4 – Have a Separate Mailing List Just for Webinar Attendees

In addition to making money from a webinar, they are also great for building mailing lists and collecting leads as well. Whether you are generating new attendees through site content, SEO, social media or paid advertising, this is going to provide you with a fresh list of data that really wants what you have to offer.

Many webinar solutions will also make it easier for you to send out mailings to your attendees, and reminding them of your upcoming event. At the same time, these lists can also be used for future promotional mailings, updates, and upcoming webinars as well.

Even if you only convert a small percentage of your webinar attendees into paying customers, you will still have a nice list of subscribers to follow up with and nurture over time.

5 – Remarket to Your Webinar Subscriber on Social and Display

The best marketers and brand in the world today know how to effectively market their products and services. We’ve already gone through the many different ways to get users to subscribe to your list and joining your upcoming webinar, but what about after your event takes place?

There is still plenty of money left on the table at this point as well. After your webinar is done, make sure you send out a few more mailings to your subscribers and see if you can get them to take action. This can all be done by taking your current email list and importing them into another third-party advertising platform.

Remarketing is also a huge factor in grabbing additional sales as well. Before your webinar goes live, you can set up a remarketing campaign through Facebook Ads or Google Adwords, reminding users of your upcoming event. Then you can also run another after the event takes place. Remarketing is one of the most effective ways to increase sales, while only spending a few dollars in the process.

Webinars are Still Huge Cash Cows. Get Started with Your Today!

Now that we’ve broken down the key points on how to create a successful webinar campaign and make some serious money, the ball is now in your corner.

Do you currently have a product or service to sell through an online webinar? If not, start thinking about the different ways you can implement webinars into your marketing strategy — whether that be through improved branding, pre-sales information, or any of the methods we highlighted above.

The bottom line here is that webinars are extremely effective and they are here to stay.

 

Borrowing Marketing Strategies From Other Industries





A lot of people are going to try and tell you that there isn’t anything new as far as marketing goes. For the most part, this is true, at least until some new tech comes out that changes the game. Why not try tactics that other industries are using? Strategies that work well with general contracting may not work with promoting a Shopify store. Sure. I get that.



But what if some of these ideas could work for your company? Keep reading to know more about what’s going on in my head.

Foodservice

Restaurant marketing is probably a lot different than what you think.

They use coupons and discounts. They have industry nights where if you come in and you work for another restaurant or hotel, you get a discount.



One of the coolest strategies is having your chef do a guest spot somewhere. They go do cooking classes or visit a culinary school, promote the restaurant, and do a little razzle-dazzle with some food.

While you obviously can’t do that for a construction business, why can’t you do something similar? Go give some talks at high schools. Go to local hardware stores, hang out, and answer questions about what you do.

The idea works with pretty much any field, you just need to think outside of the box.

Car Sales

Every car salesman, for whatever reason, wants a spot on TV or radio. Why?

Younger people don’t listen to the radio and don’t watch nearly as much TV as older people. If you want to hit young people where it counts, these folks need to do what other businesses are doing and hit social media.

The problem with selling cars is that for decades, the marketing has been way too “in your face”. If they were to back up and change their approach for the millennial and younger generations, they could flip their marketing game on its head and possibly sell more cars.



Imagine how many more cars he would sell if a salesman was less salesy and instead, provided real value on a blog and on social media, telling readers everything they need to know about dealing with the process of buying a car. Different, right?

The Flip Side

What about SEO? Why aren’t there more ads for it on TV and radio? Not enough people know what it is and how much value it has for businesses.

Why aren’t we getting the word out? Why is it such a big secret to most people?

Every business deserves to have its shot at the title. People like us can make it happen. Instead, we have to explain what we do for an hour while people look at us with blank-face Radio Shack employee stares. It’s awkward.

Conclusion

Everyone. Every business.

We, collectively, as a whole, need to do more to market our businesses.

We need to try new things and see what industries are doing that aren’t related to our own field and see if we can make them successful with our own companies.

It’s worth a shot!

 

Arbitraging.co Crypto Arbitrage Platform Concerns, Tutorials, and Results with the Abot





A little while ago a friend told me about an arbitraging platform that was, “too good to be true.  Just put money in and watch it grow”.   He put $60,000 dollars into the platform and in only 2 months it was now worth $100,000 dollars.  I called bullshit and threw out everything at him but he said he could withdraw at any time and it was “risk-free”.  I still called bullshit.



But I tried it out with a small amount…  to my surprise it does “just work”.

Arbitrage is not new or rocket science.  By definition, arbitrage it is the profit from a market imbalance.

In the crypto-coin world, there are many exchanges where the same coins are exchanged (bitcoin, ethereum, etc).  This platform has a bot and it simply looks for differences in prices in these exchanges and then makes a trade to make a profit.



Think of it like this.  You see in the newspapers that 2 different places are selling & buying bananas.  At groceryA the banana is $1.00 and at groceryB the banana is $1.10.   You can simply purchase at A and sell to B and profit 10%.  That is all arbitrage is.

The stock market has been traded by bots for more than 20 years.  The crypto coin world is in its infancy and it makes sense there is such a huge opportunity.

If a system is only buying and selling for a profit than it is risk-free.  In theory at least.

So I have been using arbitrage.io and telling all my friends about it.  For newbies and even people familiar with the crypto world, it’s not very easy to set up.  And I am very tired of walking people through it.  So I decided to make videos and direct people here.

These videos are simply about the abot.  They have many other features that I will include as I learn.



I will start with my concerns about the platform:

Now for my tutorial:

 

And the results so far (I will update this once a month or more):

 

Education Matters: Interesting Courses for the Entrepreneur





When I left university, I thought I was done with school. I’d learned the basics of reading, writing, and ‘rithmatic. I could get a job and make a living now. The more I talk to people with higher ed degrees, the more I realize how much education really matters. It’s not about knowing facts but improving your own emotional intelligence. Some of us might not be able to take the time to go get a Master’s degree. This doesn’t mean we can’t continue in our education. Entrepreneurs love to read books. And they love to give courses. But one thing many of us neglect is real coursework.



If you’d like to continue in your education, here are some of the most interesting courses any entrepreneur could take right now.

1. Digital Marketing with Udacity

Digital marketing is such a broad topic. And when you don’t know where to start, you might just give up on the entire production. Fortunately, Udacity created a complete digital marketing program.

The program lasts three months and you earn a micro-degree at the end. You’ll take courses rich in the basics of marketing, content strategy, media planning, social media marketing, SEO, and SEM.

You’ll learn how to design your website content. The course includes opportunities to network.

2. Learning How to Learn

The human brain is so complex that we still don’t understand all of its mysteries. For example, we still don’t get what consciousness is (if it’s even a real thing and not a concept). We do know it’s not as simple as on/off, but we don’t understand much beyond what it’s not.

We do understand more today about practical aspects of the brain than ever before. And learning about how we learn is useful not only in your own life and career but in helping others toward their goals.

This is what the Coursera class “Learning How to Learn” attempts to give us. A glimpse into the learning abilities of successful and artistic people.

The course is about 12-16 hours. You will learn about brain science from experts who understand how the brain “chunks” information and stores it.



3. The Complete Crowdfunding Course for Kickstarter and Indiegogo

Kickstarter only has a success rate of about 45%. That’s about as lame as the average U.S. Presidential mid-term approval rate.

Why are so many Kickstarters failing? Perhaps it has something to do with the blasted million dollar success stories?

Whatever is happening, Udemy’s Complete Crowdfunding Course wants to give you all the tools necessary for success. You’ll participate in a four-hour course that includes step-by-step approaches to growth-hacking a crowdfunding campaign.

One of the major problems with most crowdfunding campaigns is the lack of audience. Many assume they’ll magically accrue an audience once they begin their campaign. Even people with an audience often fail at running a Kickstarter campaign. I’ve seen it.

4. A Course on Artificial Intelligence

As I’ve pointed out in countless articles here on Shoemoney, A.I. is here to stay whether we like it or not. You already interact with artificial intelligence on a daily basis. Often we don’t even realize we’re talking to a bot.

Another Udacity course wants to help you understand how those bots actually work. And they want to help you apply the technology to your business and startup.

The course, Intro to Artificial Intelligence covers four months of basics, stats, planning, logic and really anything A.I. related. It’s essentially a crash course in artificial intelligence.

The course is based off Standford University’s Sebastian Thrun’s own course on artificial intelligence.

You will need to take a few courses before beginning this one. You’ll need to know a little about probability theory and linear algebra. But that’s the cost for learning to control the A.I. before it learns to control you.

5. A Course on Productivity

I personally have a hard time taking the time to work on my productivity. It feels counterproductive to take time out of my day for self-improvement. But it’s really not a bad idea.

Learning how to throw the procrastination monster overboard and avoiding that feeling of being overwhelmed would be valuable, right? Well, there is a course for that.

You can take two hours out of your day to learn how to be more productive. The first step is to schedule (some of us have a hard time with that word, schedule) the course during a time when you can give your *full* attention.

The course is like a doctor’s checkup on your productivity health. You’ll participate in activities that diagnose how you mismanage your time and find ways to fix those things.



People who find themselves constantly overwhelmed rejoice. You’ll learn to control your mindset and increase your energy level. You’ll learn daily habits you can incorporate that mesh with your personality type.

6. Building a Personal Brand

If you’re not looking to jumpstart a startup, you are probably building your own personal brand. This is where I’m at. And I can tell you that any freelancer I’ve ever known could use a course like this.

And even if you aren’t building a business from your personal brand, you can learn a bit from Gary Vaynerchuk’s course.

7. +Acumen Presents: Seth Godin’s Leadership Workshop

Seth Godin founded Yoyodyne and Squidoo and is a bestselling author. While taking skills related courses can be extremely beneficial, sometimes all we need is a bit of inspiration for our day.

Learning from great entrepreneurs like Godin can have a profound impact on your drive and your mood. This is why I’ve included this awesome short course on leadership.

Even if you don’t feel like a born leader, there is always someone in your life who looks up to you.

8. Google I.T.

The Google IT Support Professional Certificate Specialization is probably the most intensive course on this list. It includes 10 hours a week of video lectures, hands-on labs, quizzes, and widget tutorials.

This is a partnership course between Google and Coursura. They recently opened the course to the public and that’s a good thing for entrepreneurs who want to manage their own I.T.

And even if you don’t want to manage your own I.T., you might want to understand every aspect of what’s going on in your company.

9.  Startup Business: How to Raise Seed Capital

Whether you’re starting with $100 or $100,000, you’re going to need to raise funds to run your business. Some will do this through Kickstarter, other will earn it and still, others will rely on traditional investors.

The Startup Business course is for first-time business owners who feel overwhelmed. They might see startup funding as a mountain to climb. This course gives you the tools to climb that mountain.

10. Why Ethics Matter: Ethical Research

Often in business, we’re not asked to reflect on our personal morals. But morals and ethics guide our everyday actions. From how you treat your employees to what kind of food you choose to eat, you’re making moral and ethical choices in life.

If you want to ensure your business ethics are above board, you should check out this six-hour course on ethics from FutureLearn.

You’ll learn about history that’s shaped and established common ethical tropes in our society. You’ll read case studies about ethical research. And you’ll build a framework for future ethical research and how to apply what you learn.

11. The Complete SEO Course

While you can learn the basics of SEO from free articles on the web, SEOs still like to keep secrets from the general public. How else do you think they make their money?

SEO is as essential to your business as that bowl of oats you had for breakfast is to your daily focus. In this course, you’ll learn about how to measure SEO success, how to drive customers to your company through content marketing, and more.

It includes quizzes at the end of each section.

12. Intro to Virtual Reality

After the 90’s we all thought the virtual reality dream was dead. But just a few years ago, Oculus and HTC made that dream a reality.

While most people who own headsets are gamers and creatives, the market for VR is still growing in the business sector.

If you want to stay one step ahead in your visual marketing game, it’s a good idea to understand virtual reality as a marketing and training tool.

This is a basic intro to the technology by Google and it’s a free two-week course. You’ll come away understanding optics, displays, stereopsis, tracking, and hardware. You’ll also learn about various VR applications.

 

How to Fail Gracefully: What Entrepreneurs Can Learn from Ultrarunners





On July 25th, 2018, I ran 53 miles on technical single track through the Elkhorn Mountains. I climbed a total of 12,000 feet and descended an equal distance. I wanted to quit more than once, but I didn’t give in to my human desires. I am now an ultrarunner. Over the six months I trained and through the grueling challenge of the Elkhorn Crest 53, I learned some extremely precious lessons for life and business. In the next few paragraphs, I’ll give you a little bit of insight into what entrepreneurs could learn from ultrarunners.



“Fail Early, Fail Often”

In ultrarunning, especially at the longer distances of 100 miles or more, failure is highly probable. Anything could happen in the 24-48 hours you’re in the woods and scaling canyon walls.

You could break an ankle, get euhydrated, or go into kidney failure. Even taking a wrong turn, like ultrarunning hero Jim Walmsley, could cost you a major win.

When ultrarunners forfeit a race and receive the dreaded DNF (Did Not Finish) on their record, do you think they go home and cry? Yeah, maybe. But they don’t stay home forever.

They take their failures and learn from them. And then they pick themselves up, sign up for another race, and begin training again.



It took Jim Walmsley three attempts at the coveted Western States 100 course record. This year, he finally broke it handily. If he had given up when he made the wrong turn, he wouldn’t know the glory of winning.

A.D.A.P.T.

It was late in the race when I realized how dehydrated I was. I hadn’t urinated all day and I was ten hours into the race.

I could have quit at that point. I was at an aid station and they had ATVs, after all.  Plus, nausea came over me any time I tried to eat or drink.

Instead, I accepted my situation and decided to change it. I loaded my water bladder with ice, poured water over it, and chugged some electrolyte solution. This rejuvenated me enough to regain the six place points I’d lost and enabled me to finish 15th when I would have finished 21st out of 40.

Coach Koop’s A.D.A.P.T. system is what allowed me to asses and change my situation. One of my favorite quotes in his book is from Mike Tyson. “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” 

The A.D.A.P.T. system goes like this:

Accept.



Diagnose.

Analyse.

Plan.

Take Action.

The first step is the most important. If you took out a small business loan in your name only and suddenly your business partner abandoned your venture halfway through. The business won’t succeed without their skills.

At this point, you will have to accept the fact you’re saddled with a loan and down a business.

The next step is to diagnose. How bad is it? Do you have the funds to pay off the loan saved up? Could you borrow from a relative or someone you trust to pay it off without interest?

Next, analyze. What are your possible next steps?

Make a plan from those steps. You are going to borrow from your rich uncle, pay off the loan and then work hard to pay back your uncle as soon as you can (hoping he just forgives you anyway).

Then you take action. You do what you said you were going to do. And then you finish the race if you can.

 

How to Automate the Hell Out of Your Business





The point of building a business is to eventually fire yourself. Yes. Your job as an entrepreneur is to be so successful that you eventually train your replacement. This could mean selling your website or it could mean scaling to the point where you only make decisions and do none of the work. But until then, you should constantly be looking for ways to lessen the burden on yourself and your employees if you have them.



“The market rewards business leaders for making things more efficient.” So, why not seek that reward by automating as much as possible in your business? In the next few paragraphs, I’ll outline some awesome ways you can automate various aspects of your business.

1. Automate Your Marketing

A 1500 word blog post takes the average marketer 3 hours to complete. That includes research, editing, images, promotion, and SEO.

Add on top of that PPE, marketing funnels, e-mail marketing, etc. and you’ve got a mountain of work to do.  Why not automate your marketing so you have more time to work on the rest of your business?

While you might spend capital upfront on automation, the time you spend on your business will more than make up for lost dollars.

2. Find and Eliminate Redundancy

I worked for a non-profit for seven years. When you’re a non-profit that receives government funding, you have to bow to government regulations. And often, the government demands redundancy.



Some individuals thought this meant they should create redundancies nobody asked them to create. It was a fear response to government oversight.

As a quality assurance director, I reversed this trend. I took employee surveys and combined redundant questions. I utilized the digital tools the IT department gave us. I made everything as seamless as possible.

Do this in your business. If you employ a team, talk with your team and find out where people’s jobs overlap. If you’re a one-person show, look at where you can re-use and duplicate content across your social media and marketing.

3. Machine Learning and AI

Worried about the future of prices? How about whether your digital marketing budget is spent wisely?

You can assuage any fears you have about these things with AI and Machine Learning. Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure both offer competitive rates on machine learning and AI tools for businesses.

You can easily take data points from your business and run them through a machine learning algorithm to predict trends and future cost points. Soon, you’ll be relying on machines and less on yourself.

4. Keep it Simple, Keep it Easy

It’s easy to overcomplicate automation. Remember, this is supposed to make life harder and not easier. If your automation programs are overwhelming, it’s time to figure out why.

Some people, like my predecessors at the non-profit, think that complication is safe. If they keep it complicated, that means they’re getting “all the data.”



But what happens when you overcomplicate and get nothing done? The biggest problem with what my predecessor did was the fact he scared employees away from giving him information.

When you streamline the process, you will experience less resistance. You’ll consequently get more information than you would have with a more complicated system.

5. Once You Scale, Contract Out

It’s rare to find a company that doesn’t have an in-house team. With an in-house team, communication is easier and more effective.

But burdening your in-house team with menial tasks or monumental tasks they’re not experts in will sap your team’s energy. This is where outsourcing and automation come in.

You want to find the tasks your team might be good enough at but distract from the ultimate goal. These tasks are the ones you should outsource to a contracted team.

6. Streamline Communication

I have a software engineer friend who is working on a new kind of communication software. It allows a team to be in constant contact while working through voice communication. The goal is to simulate an office environment remotely.

Programs like this are revolutionizing how we work either remotely or even within an in-house team. No longer do you need to hike it five floors up to talk to the other department. Nor do you have to conduct specific meetings to specify information.

Once you have a team you’re working with, check out programs like Slack and Trello. You’ll find that with your team only a click away, you’re going to get work done faster and more efficiently.

7. Outsource Loyalty Programs

Customers almost expect loyalty programs these days. Every major business has a “club card” of some sort. Even small businesses are able to have “exclusives” for loyal customers thanks to programs like Clover and Loyverse.

Some of these systems actually include point of sales for small businesses. Customers can load up on a charge account and not have to use a card when they come in to buy.

Often websites will include similar services for their customers. If you’re an e-seller, it might be time to research some loyalty and POS automation tools for your website.

8. Your Eventual Goal is 20 Minutes a Day

This is especially true if you’re running an e-commerce business. You should outsource and automate so much of your business, that you only need to spend 20 minutes a day working on it.

You have to trust others to do the work at some point. This might be hard for people who need to feel in control. But you can do it.

 

Stay Ahead of the Competition With These Six E-Commerce Trends





The recent e-commerce growth is like bacteria. The more growth there is the more exponential the growth becomes. In only three years, the e-commerce market is set to double from $2.3 trillion to $4.5 trillion. Right now 67% of all buyers make their journey digitally. We’re going to see that number steadily rise over the next few years. It’s the best time to get into e-commerce.



But if you’re not aware of the trends, you’ll cease to remain relevant. Here are a few e-commerce trends you absolutely need to know about.

1. Native Shopping

Not to be confused with the abhorrent practice of buying and selling humans, native shopping simply means buying from places where we naturally abide on the internet. If you’re on Facebook, why couldn’t you buy your sneakers right there?

While Zuckerberg might be wringing his hands in anticipation of my next words, I’m not going to suggest he build a Facebook e-commerce store. But if he really wanted to keep people on Facebook, he’d emulate what Pinterest is doing.

Pinterest’s Shop the Look feature is taking e-commerce to the next level. Pinterest allows e-sellers (especially clothing retailers) to post a photo of their items. Users can click on a specific item and find out everything about it, including price, right in Pinterest.

The only time a user needs to leave the platform is when they want to finalize their purchase.

Pinterest is an intuitive way to shop. You can pin anything you’re thinking of buying and return to it later. And your friends will be able to see what you’re considering and possibly buy it too.



A win-win for both e-sellers and purchasers.

2. International is Done Playing Catch-Up

U.S. e-commerce used to be king. But today, 57% of shoppers are purchasing from overseas vendors.

And the international market is coming to the United States as well. People from all over the globe are buying online and they want your products.

How do you make your store international-friendly? It’s easy when companies like BigCommerce are providing a way to reach more than 150 countries globally.

You can find all-inclusive packages that allow you to accept all kinds of international payment from PayPal and Stripe.

3. Virtual Reality and Eventually Augmented Reality

While I’m hoping our world doesn’t become the hyperbole I see in science fiction portrayals of augmented reality, I am hopeful for the technology. Magic Leap just came out with their $2500 Magic Leap One developer kit.

That’s a jump above the Oculus Rift dev kit which launched at $600, but I still think it will eventually overcome VR in everyday usefulness.

This is why, if you’re planning on staying in e-commerce long term, it’s time to start playing with this kind of technology right now. VR is here to stay. And it’s getting cheaper by the day.



Simple augmented reality is available through a smartphone, although it’s not incredibly convincing. But the interior design app, Houzz found that consumers were more likely to purchase a product if they could visulize it in their house. They also found that users would stay in the app 2.7X longer when they used AR.

4. Voice Search is Taking Over Everything

I can say “OK Google” even when my phone is locked and get an answer from Google. This is every futurist’s dream come true. But will it ever be useful for shopping?

With Echo and Google home, shopping through voice is actually possible. Although, unless you know what you already need, the process might be cumbersome.

Imagine a system where the home assistant names out every product you could want. Sounds horrible. But what if the program could predict what you’re going to buy?

The incredible thing is that Amazon already uses a similar process to increase the efficiency of its logistics department. They can predict what you are going to buy and when and have it a processing center near you.

Soon Amazon could use this same technology to help you shop by voice.

5. Machine Learning and A.I.

You might think that machine learning and A.I. are for the big corporation like Google and Amazon. But you’d be surprised to hear that soon, these technologies will be helping small e-sellers target their audiences.

Netflix is a good example of a company that’s utilized machine learning to better target audiences. They’ve created “taste communities” based on user preferences. They tasked a machine learning algorithm with organizing these communities.

6. Same-Day or Next Day Delivery

Even Walmart has free two-day shipping. That’s an old-hat standard by now. But what about same-day or just next-day shipping?

While these options may not be offered free of charge like two-day shipping, they’re becoming popular options. Apparently, people want their products “NOW.”

We’re becoming worse procrastinators than ever. And we’ll wait till the very last minute to order something we need tomorrow. I know I’ve become extremely guilty of this habit.

But Amazon is rising to the demand. They’ve built a host of new supply centers around the United States, especially near major metropolitan areas.

These two options will eventually become mainstays just like two-day shipping did. And customers are going to become used to picking the same-day or next-day options.

Soon, fulfillment services will be offering these same options to e-sellers and you’ll be able to store your products nearby most of your customers. You may not be able to offer the service for free like some big sellers will eventually do, but you’ll at least be able to compete.

 

It Might Be Cliche, But You Can Turn Your Passion Into a Business





You’re sitting your cubicle staring at a blinking cursor. It dances there mocking you. You’re supposed to be typing up that yearly report for the boss. But you’d rather be out in the mountains or on a lake somewhere fishing. Someone comes and taps on your shoulder. It’s the FedEx guy with a large envelope. You rip it open and out slides a flip phone. You open the phone and it rings.



You answer, “Hello?”

“What if I told you that you don’t have to sit in a cubicle forever.”

“Yeah, well, I’m heading home here in an hour…”

“What if I told you that you could turn your passion into a business? That it might take a lot of work, but you could be on the river fishing and making money at the same time.”

Would you believe the man on the phone? Or would be like Neo and decide that the ledge was too dangerous? It’s entirely possible to take a passion and eventually use it as an escape hatch for a boring job. It’s just more work than most realize. So, I’m going to take you through a few bit of advice and hopefully by the end, you’ll be ready to take the leap.



1. It’s Not Wise to Jump Ship Just Yet

Unless you have a year or two safety net of income saved up, you might want to keep that soul-sucking job for the time being. No new business is a guarantee.

Maybe you want to start an SEO company. Perhaps you want to target the cannabis industry. So, you begin to build this business, gain a few clients, and suddenly with the next wave of politicians, even associating with a cannabis company becomes illegal.

It’s something completely out of your control. You can’t have predicted it would happen. And if you left your job, you’re going to be hurting quite a bit.

But if you kept your job, it was just a side hustle, and you can afford to start over in another industry.

2. It’s Not Just a Hobby

If you want to turn your passion into a business, you can’t treat it like a hobby. A hobby is something you spend maybe a few hours on the weekends doing. A business is something you work at every day until it becomes profitable.

One of the best things about working from home is that you can set your own schedule. It’s also one of the worst things about working from home.

If you don’t set a schedule, you won’t get anything done. You’ll be constantly working against your own deadlines or those clients impose on you.

It’s the same when you’re a new entrepreneur with a side-hustle. You need structure or you’ll get home from work and never get anything done.

Just like your boss does for you at your 9-5, you need to create a weekly schedule of when you’re going to work in the evening.



Set weekly goals and strive to meet them.

There are plenty of organizational platforms out there for you to work from. And you’ll be amazed at how much you can get done with a little bit of structure.

3. Seek a Mentor

While you might be an expert in your passion, you may not be an expert in turning it into a business. There are a billion aspects you may not have considered before deciding to turn your passion into a money-making business.

But resources exist to help entrepreneurs every step of the way. The U.S. Small Business Administration built Small Business Development Centers all across the country.

You can learn how to develop a business plan, do market research, even get guidance on how to offer healthcare to future employees.

The private sector offers another free option. SCORE is a non-profit organization that will pair you with a mentor. They offer free live and recorded webinars. They conduct on Demand courses that teach anything from competitive analysis to strategic planning.

If you do become successful enough to quit your job, you don’t have to be lonely. You can find a co-working space and either rent office space or share space with other people.

Many of these environments offer opportunities to network and edvance your business. And when you want to scale, you might find partners and new employees there as well.

4. Use All the Online Tools at Your Disposal

You’re no longer bound by the physical world. Leverage that social media. If you’re just starting out and need to make connections, you’ll find a community for almost every passion on the books.

Social media platforms like Google+ already have a natural setup for community building. And if you don’t have a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter account, it’s time to start one.

From these platforms, you will build a following and eventually a brand.

If you end up selling merchandise related to your passion, you’ll easily convert this following into buyers. Gain a massive following on one of the above social platforms and you’ll have another income stream outside of your passion.

5. Don’t Keep it a Secret

While at first you grandma and your sister might be the only ones visiting your site, they’ll tell their friends and their friends will tell theirs. Grassroots is always the best way to build a business. It creates a solid foundation from which to work.

 

5 Tips for Building a Sales Team





I’m taking a short break from my super popular As the Search Engine Turns story to bring you a piece on sales. Don’t worry, ATSET will be back soon. Whether you’ve got a mediocre or sub-par sales team on your hands or are in charge of building a brand new one from scratch, you’re going to need some help and some patience. According to SalesForce, 79% of marketing leads never convert into a sale. This is a problem. Why are these conversions not happening? There could be miscommunication between the marketing and the sales departments or one of those departments could just be dropping the ball.



To make sure it isn’t your sales team that’s responsible, check out our checklist.

1. Watch Out For Toxicity

Negativity breeds negativity. You need to either fix it or remove it completely.

Toxic employees, if allowed to fester, will poison the minds of other team members as well as turn off your prospect, potentially chasing them away to a competitor. Build a team that’s positive and reading to make things happen for the company.



2. It’s About Results

You want your team to be driven. They should want to make the sale. Your team should be about results. This is right out of the sales 101 playbook.

On top of that, they should also be competitive. They should want to do better than they did last month and better than the other teams every month. Make it a friendly competition. Winners get bragging rights for the month and have to buy the first round at the local watering hole. Something like that.

3. Coachability

A lot of hot shot sales guys aren’t great at receiving feedback.

When you build out your team, make sure to hire the people who can take constructive criticism well. Explain that it’s for the good of the company and them as individuals and then prove it to them.

As a sales manager or lead, you’re going to be required to put your money where your mouth is quite often.



4. Training and Learning

Sales professionals are sharks. But a shark doesn’t stop swimming just because there isn’t any blood in the water.

When things are slow or when new programs or courses come out, get your team on them quickly. Make sure they’re trained well from the jump but do not let them get lazy. Keep them learning new things all the time.

5. Communication is Key

Talk to your sales team. Every team has meetings, sure, but how many sales managers are truly effective communicators?

Don’t be afraid to have one on one meetings with your team members, especially if they need help. Offer to do whatever it takes to get their performance level to where it needs to be.

The Takeaway

While every business is different, the root of the sales team stays the same.

It’s easy for people to pick up bad habits in previous positions. Make sure you’re ready to retrain if necessary and communicate clearly as to what you expect and when you expect them.

Don’t be a pushover. Assertive is the way to go as a manager. You’re a leader and your team is going to be looking to you for support and help when they need it. At the end of the day, your team meeting their goals and quotas is your responsibility.

 

Cities Where Millennial Entrepreneurs Are Likely to Thrive





Being originally from farm-town USA, I understand the woes of being a connection-less entrepreneur. People don’t understand your mindset. They don’t get why you don’t want to marry your high school sweetheart and take over the family business. Why would you ever leave these fields of dreams? Don’t you want to be buried here? While I went through a Country phase in high school, tractors and cow shit aren’t really my thing. I prefer mountain trails and artsy cafes. Which is why I’m a freelance writer and not a farmer.



This is why the Northwest United States is now my home. I get the beauty of the Cascades and the opportunities to network all in one place.

If you’re looking for a city where opportunities abound, I’ve got the goods. It may not be my city (although two PNW cities are on this list), but I guarantee that any one of these cities will give you ample opportunity to network and enhance your career.

What Makes a Great City for Young Entrepreneurs?

I’ve lived in various small cities around the country and one thing I’ve realized, they all wish for young leadership while pushing young people out of their cities. Where do young people migrate to when small town USA decides they’re not welcome? Cities.

These cities are full of fellow young Entrepreneurs aged 25-35. More young people in these cities have at least a bachelor’s degree and many of them have gone on to earn professional or graduate degrees.

The Millennial unemployment rate is atrocious at 12.8 percent. The unemployment rate for Millennials in each of these cities sits at 10% or lower.

Another metric to consider when looking at entrepreneur-friendly cities is the income to rent ratio. If you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, you may not have much money. Even the show Silicon Valley overinflates what small band of entrepreneurs could afford in the valley.

You want a city where rent and bills don’t eat up all your income.

The last metric to consider is the number of start-ups recently born in the area. One of the first cities on the list is prime to be the next Silicon Valley.



1. St. Petersburg, Florida

Home to MoneyHoarder.com and a host of other online startups, St. Petersburg is a growing and hip metropolis. With Tampa and some lower-priced suburbs nearby, rent is fairly cheap compared to Silicon Valley.

The greater Tampa Bay Area is listed as one of the top places for women to start a business. In our current culture of misogyny, this is an important aspect to consider.

St. Pete’s is still small enough to create an easier atmosphere in which to network and yet it’s growing at a phenomenal rate.  It’s the fourth fastest growing job market in the U.S.

On top of all, you get to hang out in a hip downtown full fo grunge and hipster bars and cafes. The beaches are chill and the party almost never stops.

2. Alexandria, Virginia

Just across the river from D.C., Alexandria recently became the place entrepreneurs fled to after realizing D.C. was too expensive. All the power brokers are there.

Alexandria is in the top ten in unemployment rates in the country. And they earned a top-20 spot for small business loans and diversity.

Property prices are cheaper than across the river in the District.

Biggest downside? If the nation’s capital gets hit by a nuclear attack, you’re screwed. Other than that, the small city feel of Alexandria will attract Millennials who are sick of city congestion and expense.

3. Austin, Texas

Austin once tried to outlaw Uber. They succeeded for a while, but Texas said no. And yet Austin is known as a Millennial haven.

It’s the 11th most populous city in the United States. Almost 20% of that population is between the ages of 25 and 34. This is one of the most Millennial-populated cities in the United States.

Known just as much as Portland, Oregon for their brunches (with a Southwest touch — hot sauce, anyone?), you’ll leave your office and encounter food carts and hip bars galore.

Why else would you want to move to Austin? Well, Texas is one of the few U.S. states that don’t charge personal or corporate income tax. This means you will only have to worry about Federal income tax come April.



4. Boulder, Colorado

Once known as yuppy capital of the U.S. and the birthplace of 4/20, Boulder has grown up a little bit. Often when you have a major research University nearby, things look up for local entrepreneurs.

If you move to Boulder, you’ll find a Techstars accelerator, and an entrepreneurship and innovation center. Median household income is around $70k and the average rent for a single family home (not an apartment like in the Bay Area, mind you) is $2,204. And unemployment is at an all-time low.

You’re only 30 minutes from Denver and just an hour from some of the best skiing in the world. And if Boulder is too big for your liking, you could move to Lyons and commute 30 minutes.

If you love trails, you’ll have your fill and find plenty of people who just love the outdoors. And it’s one of the most educated cities in the state with 60% of people owning a bachelor’s degree or higher.

5. Ann Arbor, Michigan

Having grown up in Indiana and Michigan, I always thought of the east side of Michigan as the ghetto. And Flint hasn’t done much to bolster that image. But Ann Arbor is worlds apart from Detroit and all it’s famous for.

While I’m biased toward several cities on the west side, Ann Arbor is still ranked #1 in Michigan for entrepreneurial achievement. And my love of Notre Dame doesn’t dampen the fact that the University of Michigan has helped change the landscape in Ann Arbor for local residents.

6. San Diego, California

A major U.S. port that features a massive Naval Base and the San Diego Zoo, San Diego is mainly known for it’s tourism and mild weather. The latter is a major perk for anyone wanting a great place to chill. But what makes San Diego so great for Millennial entrepreneurs?

Tijuana. Across the border is a less regulated world of tech startups where you can get your app or program developed for a third the price. Plus, you’ll learn some Spanish just by being near Mexico.

And if you’re looking for a more affordable place to live in California, San Diego hit the spot. While places like La Jolla and Del Mar might be prime for luxury real estate, you can find cheaper land out by the North Park and South Park neighborhoods in San Diego for a fraction of the price.

San Diego isn’t up there with Austin as far as the rent to income ratio, but it’s nowhere near the insanity of Silicon Valley.

7. Ames, Iowa

If you’re one to get vertigo just looking at mountains and cliff-side villas, then Iowa might be your destination city. It’s home to Iowa State, the first land-grant university in the United States.

About 60k residents (half of which are students), Ames, Iowa features a population of 20-35-year-olds in the 30% percent range.

Almost 50% of the population owns a bachelors degree or higher making their children of the corn possibly the most likely to succeed. And the town itself features the Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship.

The Papajohn Center calls their entrepreneur network the Entrebold network. They believe correctly you need to be bold to be an entrepreneur and they want the people in their network to act boldly.

They feature weekly and monthly events for entrepreneurs, bringing in speakers and putting on workshops.

8. Seattle, Washington

While possibly more young people live in Portland, Oregon, Seattle still takes the cake when it comes to entrepreneurship. While only 16% of this buzzing metropolis is between the ages of 25-34, the number of young people who’ve earned a bachelor’s or higher wins over Portland, Oregon.

And with major corporations like Microsoft and Amazon nearby, there’s plenty of opportunity for seed money for virtually any tech venture.

As far as environment goes, you’re only a 30-minute drive from the Cascades and world-class trails. Just go west and you’re in the Olympic National Park on the Olympic Penninsula.

The People Make the Place

Really, it’s not the city or the location but the people who make a place entrepreneur-friendly. If the entrepreneurs in a city aren’t already working together to attract more business, then a city won’t be attractive.

Where have you found success in bringing entrepreneurs together? Let me know in the comments below.

 

6 Things Small Businesses Should Outsource





There is a freelancer for almost every industry in the world. In this country alone, they make up about one-third of the workforce and that number is expected to increase to more than 50% in the next ten years. There are dozens of platforms online to help you find these workers. All it takes to find the right person for the job is a few clicks of your computer mouse. As an entrepreneur, you likely want to try to do everything. But with this horde of independent contractors all looking for work, why not focus your time and talents on your skill set? Which of course, is growing your business.



Delegation is part of the process of owning a business and growing it. You can’t scale if you’re trying to do everything yourself. Here are 6 things that small businesses can and should outsource to make their lives easier.

1. Accounting and Payroll

Taxes, invoices, and time sheets, oh my! Does this sound like a good time to you?

It shouldn’t. Because it isn’t a good time. You’re a busy person trying to get a startup off the ground and you’re going to try to do the accounting and payroll work yourself? Don’t be silly. There is only so much work one person can handle.

Accounting firms are really good at what they do. They know about tax laws, write-offs, and all sorts of ways around red tape. Sure, they’re going to cost you some cash. But in the end, they’ll end up saving you a ton of money and you’ll be thankful you made this move early on in the game.

2. Web Design and Development

Websites are a big deal. You can’t really open or operate a business without one. This is the digital age. If it doesn’t exist on the internet, it might as well not exist at all.



And if you’ve been doing your research, you probably know you can make a WordPress site with relative ease. You pick a host, a theme, and then you just create some content. Easy, peazy, right?

Not so much. If you’re taking your new company seriously, you want the best website you can buy. Luckily for you, finding a freelance WordPress developer who is out there building really nice websites at a reasonable rate can be relatively easy. You just need to know where to find them.

3. Content

Writing blog posts can be fun. But do you really want to spend your Friday and Saturday nights sitting in your office and racking your brain trying to think of headlines?

Proper outsourcing is all about delegating your weaknesses. Unless you’ve done a lot of writing in the past, know a ton about keyword research, and know how to properly do internal and external linking, you might want to leave it to a pro.

Finding a content writer is likely one of the easiest contractors to find. Sites like Problogger and Blogging Pro have job boards that are specialized. They are just for clients who are looking for writers. And writers know about them. In fact, most pro writers check these boards daily. Problogger and Blogging Pro aren’t the only ones around, but they’re definitely two of the most popular. I recommend giving them a shot. You’ll probably have a writer working for you in less than a week.

4. Administrative

Scheduling your own meetings and appointments isn’t just a hassle. These are the kind of tedious tasks that can make or break a new company.

Before you try to do some hiring, check out sites like Upwork, where you can find a Virtual Assistant. No more dealing with an assistant who isn’t getting the work done. These folks only get paid for time spent actually working. Expect to pay about $15-$20 per hour, but the bright side is that you don’t have to cover any benefits.



Some Virtual Assistants are so good you will wonder why you’re not having to pay them more. Interview your candidate just like you would a normal employee and find the person who’s right for your business. Ask for a portfolio and references and try to get a feel if they are actually interested in what your company is doing.

5. Marketing

Digital marketing agencies are all over the place. You probably never realized just how many are in your area until you started your company.

The reason they’re so abundant is no one wants to know about marketing. It’s one of the hardest parts of any business, not just new or small ones. Trying to do this all on your own, especially if you don’t have any experience, can cost you tens of thousands of dollars a year in lost revenue.

A great agency will be able to handle your email promotion, your social media, as well as your SEO.

Some even offer content packages.

Before you make a decision, you definitely want to spend some time vetting and researching agencies. Scammers pretending to be legitimate marketing agencies is a real problem. Start with tapping into your personal and professional networks to see if anyone has any recommendations. Then go online to look at reviews to help narrow down your list.

6. IT

More than half of all companies outsource their IT. The reason for this is based around cost. It’s way more effective to outsource your IT because many firms can scale as your company grows. The cost of hiring IT professionals for a startup is usually going to be higher than it’s worth.

But you do need someone to watch over you like an angel. This is what IT firms are all about. They help protect you from hackers and will help deal with technical difficulties.

Conclusion

I know this feels overwhelming. It was probably not too long ago that you were developing your app or prototype late at night in your basement while your family slept soundly. You worked into the wee hours of the morning and then had to go to a day job with hardly any sleep.

If you can make it through that phase, you can make it through anything. But you shouldn’t try to do it alone.

Hire the best and brightest people you have ever met, but outsource the tasks that are outside of your skill set. In the end, you will save money, have fewer headaches and stress, and have a small army of independent contracts that will have your back when you need them.

 

Thinking About Affiliate Marketing? Read This First





Anyone who reads blogs on a regular basis probably knows about affiliate marketing. If you’re a new blogger, you’ve probably considered becoming an affiliate marketer. Ads, especially if you’re just starting out, aren’t going to bring in much income. You could build a digital product, but without any traffic, you won’t make any sales.



So for new sites and people just getting into the hustle, affiliate marketing is definitely the way to go as you build trust and authority in your niche. Here are a few quick tips for those of you who have yet to get started but are tinkering with the idea of building a niche website or you want to monetize your blog.

Focus on the Audience

If you’re all about sales, your readers will pick up on it. Instead, put your focus on helping people. Affiliate sales are all about quality products that you have personally used and recommend to readers. This is really the purpose of affiliate marketing and why so many bloggers have had success over the years.

As a blogger or website owner, you are an influencer. People trust other people more than they trust companies. Just be real.



Play the Long Game

This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Google has seen to this over the years. They no longer let people create and promote “churn and burn” websites to make a quick buck.

The best case scenario is your site will see some Google rankings in about 6 months. This gives you plenty of time to create amazing content and research the right products for your website.

If you want to speed up the process a little, you can spend some time on social media. Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter are great resources that can get early traffic to your new website if used properly.

Outsource Your SEO

Many website owners have fallen victim to themselves. You can research SEO all you want but if you aren’t an expert, you are playing with fire.



Building the wrong links can get your whole site de-indexed by search engines. If you want success with Google, then you need to play their game. And no one knows the game more than the pros. Reputable businesses like CloudRock SEO Agency can make all the difference.

A great agency will take a lot of hassle off of your plate. This will allow you time to focus on building out your site, researching products, and writing great content.

The Takeaway

I can spit out affiliate marketing tips all day long. But these three are all near the top of the list.

Building out your site or blog requires a ton of work and patience. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to sit back and take a deep breath on occasion.

It’s tempting to check your sales and traffic a hundred times a day and honestly, it’s normal. We all did this for the first few months. But the sooner you get yourself out of this habit, the better.

Find your niche, find your groove, and be prepared to work hard.

 

How Marketing is Like Captain Planet





Do you remember the old cartoon Captain Planet and the Planeteers? It was a show back in the 90s about five teenagers who could combine their powers to summon their own personal superhero. Their goal was to “take pollution down to zero”. And as far as the fictional world, they did a pretty good job. Marketing is a lot like Captain Planet. You need to combine all of your resources to be successful. Doing one thing well isn’t going to optimize your strategy. You want to do everything well. All of your superpowers need to come together to create the best marketing strategy that your team can put together.



Let’s take a look at how this old cartoon and your marketing efforts are alike. The similarities may surprise you.

Fire – Unique Selling Proposition

Your fire is your unique selling proposition. What makes your product or service different? What makes it better? And why should anyone care?

This is your fire. This is the excitement your prospects have been waiting on. Don’t disappoint them. The unique selling proposition needs to hit your customers hard. It needs to put a fire in their belly.

If you can’t motivate your customers, if you don’t have that fire, nothing else you do will matter. You’ll be just another product or service lost in the abyss.

Think about Wal-Mart. “Save money, live better”. Or M&Ms. “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand”.



These aren’t just slogans, they’re unique selling propositions that stick with people on the long-term. What can you do to make you USP stand out and turn it into something that will stay in your prospects’ and customers’ minds and hearts?

Water – SEO

Search engine optimization has become a huge part of marketing in today’s world.

Your on-page SEO is one of the few things that you have complete control over, so it needs to be on point from the jump. SEO is like water. It’s fluid.

Your efforts need to flow. Your content needs to hit prospects who are in various places in the sales funnel. Marketing is about touching the right people at the right time. You need to have something for everyone.

SEO gives you the opportunity to do just that with your blog content and your interlinking skills. Keyword research can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s not about what you want people to search for, it’s about what people are already searching for.

Peppering your content with the right keywords along with creating the best content in your industry will help to give you a leg up on any and all competition. This is why your blog, content, and keyword research should be a big part of your strategy.

Earth – Humility

While technically not a marketing strategy, humility is really important to your efforts. You want to be the best, you know you’re the best, but you still need to be humble.

The best way to accomplish this goal is to place a focus on why you do what you do. Marketing is all about finding your target customer, right?



What do you do once you find them? You have to romance the prospect. They have a problem and they’re in desperate need of finding someone who can help them with a solution. You, your product or service, or your company are that solution.

Don’t hesitate to explain to the prospect why you want to help them. Why is your product so great and why is it so perfect?

As a marketing professional, you must be prepared to answer the hard questions. Explaining why your company is in the business it’s in is a great way to break the ice and show off some humility.

Wind – Social Media

The internet is a place where your content is really only visible for a handful of minutes. Your Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts are just a few ships passing in the wind. Tweets have by far the shortest lifespan, clocking in at around 15 minutes.

Knowing this might turn you off. But social media is a gold mine if you know how to use it. The trick to using social networks is to understand that each post is fleeting, just a butterfly puttering past you as you move down the sidewalk to your next appointment.

So how does social media fit into your marketing scheme? First, you should place your focus on just a few networks. Pick 3-4 that suit your needs. The second part of your strategy is all about posting. You need to post often, as in several times a day. But you don’t want to post your content and just your content. You want to share the most relevant information to help your customers flow through the sales funnel with a variety of content from many different sources who are trustworthy and authoritative in the industry.

Heart – Customer Service

Like Ma-Ti, the teenager who possessed the heart ring in the show, some of you might be thinking about how customer service impacts your marketing plans?

As a kid, I always thought the heart character was always kind of worthless. He wasn’t strong. His ring couldn’t do much on its own. But the team was incomplete without him. They needed his ring to summon Captain Planet. It didn’t matter how strong the other characters were on their own if they couldn’t get the main hero to come out and kick some butt.

Customer service is the key to retaining customers. Issues come up and products or services may not perform as intended. Or people may just not know how to use them properly. Keeping a top-notch customer service team is great. But this is also part of a marketers job. Check out this article for more information on the topic.

You need to make yourself available to your customers and clients to help whenever they need it.

The Takeaway

Marketing has never been, and will never be, an attack with just a single prong.

However, on the flip side of this, you can’t bombard them with offers and emails or else it will annoy your prospects.

You need to find that happy medium. Have a plan in place for how and when you want to contact prospects and what you want to offer them.